King’s Dalliance with Psychedelia — Keith Murphy & the Daze

Keith Murphy & the Daze would help King Records expand its popular reach into the emerging “psychedelic” rock market (following the previous year’s foray into Jamaican ska via Prince Buster).  May of 1968 would find the release of King’s first “psych” 45 [as noted previously in “Rare & Unissued King“] with two sides by Keith Murphy & the Daze, “Slightly Reminiscent of Her” b/w “Dirty Ol’ Sam.”

Keith Murphy (front, right)

keith-murphy-the-daze-king-promo

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Left to right — Standing: Phil Fosnaugh – keyboard/organ (deceased); Jerry Asher – bass (deceased); John Asher – guitar (now Evansville IN); Sitting Bill Shearer – drums (Gas City IN), Keith Murphy – lead singer/rhythm guitar (Long Valley, NJ)

The single’s recording, however, would take place against the backdrop of (1) label founder Syd Nathan‘s passing two months prior in March, (2) followed, in April, by civil unrest in the neighborhoods adjacent to Cincinnati’s Evanston neighborhood – King’s home base – when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

“Slightly Reminiscent of Her”     Keith Murphy & the Daze     1968

The Daze, Keith Murphy postulates, are among King’s final signings while Nathan was still actively involved:

Louis Innis [previously celebrated here] was a wonderful man, and you can see from the letters [featured below] how nicely he treated me.  No letters in 1967, then in 1968 I reapproached him with The Daze, the band of which I was lead singer.  Again, the band was so sure the idea of getting a contract with King was so slim, none of the band members went with me to talk to King.  As it turns out, it was just as well, for when King wanted only me as the lead singer songwriter, they did not resent my name being on the label.  This was the pattern of King I thought, to just sign the lead singer/songwriter then they had one person to deal with and the most valuable property, like James Brown and the Famous Flames, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, etc.  I did insist that the band name also be on the record and they were ok with that.

We recorded the record in May of 1968, but it was not released until September or October of that year.  I see in their final letter, it was chaotic.  Actually, Syd Nathan died in March 1968, and it was chaos then too, as I recorded about 2 months later. I suspect, but do not know, that I was one of the very last artists that was approved by Syd Nathan himself.  Louis mentions that he wanted to see me alone to proceed forward, and they were releasing the record in England.  I had just graduated from college, had a baby daughter, had a regular job and was too busy to attend to everything. I don’t think I ever went back. I think he mentioned something on the phone about re-recording the songs.”

The same single would find its release 6 months later in the UK on Polydor, albeit with the A and B sides flipped.  Murphy would inform Zero to 180:

“I attached a picture of the exact Yellow King record [below] that was sent to England to see if Polydor was interested.  As you can see, they considered ‘Dirty Ol’ Sam’ the A side there.  I do know they must have shipped the tape or master there, as ‘Sam’ does not fade out in the UK version and is 7 seconds longer with a limp ending.  It is a near miracle I have that record.  The person who sold it worked for Polydor UK and was asked to clean out the warehouse or library.  He kept the records, and confirmed it was where it came from and the markings on the record are the numbers that ended up as the Polydor number.

This very King 45 led to the song’s issue in the UK on Polydor:  note ‘A’ & ‘B’ markings

Keith Murphy Yellow King-aakeith-murphy-dirty-ol-sam-king-promo-45-a

The single’s UK release of 15 November, 1968, unfortunately, would be a mere 8 days or so before Starday* would sell the entire Starday-King operation to Lin Broadcasting for a mere $5 million (*see related vintage news item appended to this piece).

UK release on Polydor – with A & B sides flipped!

Keith Murphy - Dirty Ol' Sam - Polydor 45-aKeith Murphy - Slightly - Polydor 45-b

“Dirty Ol’ Sam”     Keith Murphy & the Daze     1968

Keith Murphy & the Daze at Cincinnati’s King studios – May, 1968

Keith Murphy & the Daze at King studio - May 1968

Photo notes from Keith Murphy

“Here is the sole picture that was taken in the King Recording studio in May, 1968. L to R:  Phil Fosnough – Keyboard; John Asher – Lead Guitar; Bill Shearer – Drums; Jerry Asher – Bass, Keith Murphy – Lead singer, songwriter.  I remember two incidents during the recording session:  Someone came in and said they needed to send somebody to the jail to give Hank Ballard a pack of cigarettes, he had been arrested for public intoxication.  The other memory is that it was a hot day, and along side the building, the workers had the doors open and had a pressing machine partially outside to get some cooler air for the workers!”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy:
Selected Correspondence || 1965-1968

Dec. 14, 1965:  “Have [Becky Wiggins] do 3 or 4 different type songs” [see Q&A]

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Dec 1965-a

Dec. 21, 1965:  “Please find copy of my agreements” + “5% of the retail price”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Dec 65

Jan. 25, 1966:  “Anxious to get the sides recorded” + “what a rat race I’m in”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Jan 1966Feb. 17, 1966:  Pardon the delay – “echo chambers have been out in the studio”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Feb 17 1966Apr. 13, 1966:  “Returning your contracts so you can do something else” (!)

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Apr 1966Sep. 16, 1968:  “Record should be out pronto” + keep your chin up

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Sep 1968Oct. 9, 1968:  Final note = 45 to be issued in UK, but King “under new management”

Louis Innis & Keith Murphy - Oct 1968

PDF copy below of Keith Murphy’s contract with King (click on link)

Keith Murphy – Louis Innis contract (June 5, 1968)

Prior to the King 45, Murphy had actually recorded under the name Keith O’Conner as part of The Torkays, who recorded exclusively for Chicago’s Stacy Records (home of Al Casey, guitarist/bandleader behind three Lee Hazlewood A-sides in 1963 & 1964 for the label and not to be confused with The Torquays from Cincinnati’s Walnut Hills High School, located across the [future] interstate, interestingly enough, from King Records).

keith-oconner-stacy-records-promo-aIn that pre-Beatle era, O’Conner was part of a Mark, Don & Mel-type of arrangement (sorry, kids – that’s a Grand Funk Railroad joke) with The Torkays — Frank, Keith, and Jimmy — who would write a martial arts-themed composition, “Karate,” for their recording debut in 1963, with “I Don’t Like It (But What Can I Do)” on the flip.

keith-oconner-the-torkays-stacy-records-promo-aQ & A with King Recording Artist, Keith O’Conner Murphy

Q:  What led up to your getting signed by King?
A:  I started with a side project apart from my band The Daze.  They felt the chances of getting on a R&B label was such a long shot that they did not want to pursue it.  I wrote a Sonny and Cher type song called “We’re Gonna Get It” for myself and a girl named Becky Wiggins.  I started talking to Louis Innis of King in 1965.  He was very interested, as reflected in his letter which I have shared.  Sometime in 1966, Ft. Wayne native Troy Shondell, who had the big hit “This Time,” persuaded her to record for his small label 3 Rivers as Beck Holland with “I’m Going Away.”  So that scuttled the King deal.  In 1968, I then connected with Louis again, by myself, as the band still did not think it was worth the effort.  I actually was hoping to get on the Cincinnati Fraternity label, and interviewed with Harry Carlson, the owner.  He was a genuine caring person, but did not see a place in their current roster for me.  I liked his artist Mouse and the Traps, and he gave me a copy of their newly released “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win” – still one of my favorites.  The label was also home to Lonnie Mack, who recently passed, and my all time guitar instrumental favorite “Memphis.”  My next stop was King, and Louis was ready to go once I dropped some of my bold royalty demands!

Q:  Was Louis Innis Innis your main point of contact, given Syd Nathan’s death in March, 1968?  Who were some of the staff – as well as artists – you encountered during your time with King?
A:  I only worked with Louis Innis, a man I cannot say enough kind words for.  The only other person was a King engineer who I do not know the name of.  A white guy maybe in his 30’s.

Q:  Where was “home base” during your time with King — and what were your impressions of Evanston, as well as Cincinnati, during your tenure with the label?

keith-murphy-king-45-in-psych-sleeve-a

A:   My home was the small country town of Sweetser, Indiana, and the other guys lived in the “big” town of Marion or the nearby Gas City.  Grant County Indiana is the same small rural county that Fairmount is in — home of James Dean and Jim Davis who created Garfield.

Q:  Did you live in Cincinnati for any extended period of time?
A:  I never lived in Cincy.  Being in the middle of Indiana, we knocked on doors in Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, and Cincy — the major cities with record companies.  I love Cincy, however, the hills and the friendliness and especially the Chili!

Q:  I dig the far-out backdrop used in your King promotional photo — was that photo taken at King’s art studio and who designed the cool “Daze” logo?
A:  We had a booking agent, Bill Craig Jr. of Muncie, Indiana who I think partially owned a TV station there.  He also managed the Chosen Few, who later were on RCA and Mercury.  That photo was taken at a nightclub he owned called Halcyon Days, and he used it to get bookings.  Our keyboard player who used a Hammond B3 Organ with a Leslie speaker, he made that DAZE sign which had colored lights that rotated behind it.

Q:  Which make/model of electric guitars, basses & drums were plugged into the Fender amplifiers pictured in the King promo photo?

keith-oconner-the-torkays-45-a

A:  John played a Fender Jazzmaster, and at that time it looked like he was using Fender amps.  At other times he used Sunn, and I think for a short time the rolled and pleated Custom amps.  Jerry played a Fender bass, but bought a bass like Paul McCartney played sort of looked like a violin, a Hofner.  He didn’t have it long when it got stolen off the stage when we played a club in Detroit called The Mummp.

Q:  Where was home base originally for The Torkays, and what was the local response to your “Karate” 45 (which has a cool musical bridge, by the way, that loops back nicely to the verse)?
A:   “Karate” never got off the ground except in Pittsburgh.  Stacy’s biggest hit record, “Surfin’ Hootenanny” rightfully pushed everything else aside.  For some reason it has been revived on YouTube with several people posting it and 6,000 total views.  I wrote a song “Tiddlywink” for a German rockabilly band Black Raven, and they recorded it. They have notified me they want to record “Karate.”  I am surprised at the interest in this record.

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“Two Kings”:  A True Tale by Keith Murphy

Chip Taylor — did not know him, but we were both on the King label. He was on King under his real name Wes Voight.

Wes Voight Deluxe 45-aWes Voight King 45-aWes Voight Co - King EP

“He was doing a concert here in NJ and I called him and left a message, and said I would like to meet him afterwards, telling him I was in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  Well, I was out in the yard, but fortunately he left a phone message congratulating me!  I met him after the concert and brought my and his King record and had him sign it along with my copies of “Wild Thing” on both the Atco and Fontana labels by the Troggs.  Reg Presley of the Troggs died around that time, and Chip had flown to England to attend the funeral, as their careers were forever bound together by that one iconic great rock song. It is the example I always give of how important arrangement is.  The Troggs had the creative genius to put an ocarina and other stuff on there.  Chip just was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame [also famous for 1968 smash hit, “Angel of the Morning”] this summer, and I called him and congratulated.  He should have been in there a long time ago.”

“Two Kings”:  Chip Taylor (a.k.a., Wes Voight) and Keith Murphy

Chip Taylor & Keith 2 Kings Lo Res

Keith Murphy is also a voting member of the Grammys and Country Music Association

 

A   K i n g   R e c o r d s   V i n t a g e   H i s t o r y   M o m e n t

Full text of news item from the Nov. 23, 1968 edition of Billboard

Lin Broadcasting Buys Starday-King for $5 Mil; Execs Policy Retained

NASHVILLE — Lin Broadcasting Corp., owner of communication outlets, has purchased Starday and King Records and their affiliated companies for $5 million.

Fred Gregg Jr., Lin’s chairman of the board and president, said this would mean a great expansion program here.  “It will mean an additional $6 million to $8 million in gross income to the Nashville music economy,” he said.

The corporate structure of Starday-King will remain the same, with Don Pierce, president; Hal Neely, vice-president; Jim Wilson, vice-president for marketing; Johnny Miller in charge of the Cincinnati office; Henry Glover, manager of the New York office; and Harlen Dodsen, general counsel.

“Nashville will now be a complete operation in the rhythm and blues field,” Pierce said.  Pierce said James Brown now would record here, and would bring in the “right musicians for the r&b sound.”  Just having Brown record here, he said, would give tremendous impetus in this direction.  “Now that we’re working under a huge corporate structure,” Pierce said, “we can effect economies, efficiencies, acquisitions and total expansion.  We can compete for larger acts, go after great catalogs.”  He made it clear, though, that the sale in no way affects the operation of the business or its past policies.

Both Gregg and Pierce said they plan new overseas music companies in England, Germany and France at first, and eventually in other nations.  Pierce said the firm would expand its overseas distribution and exploit its various companies around the world.

The Starday president said he was obtaining a record club contract for King with Columbia, RCA and Capitol, the same ones with which Starday now has an arrangement.  He said the club membership would include James Brown.

Pierce, one of the founders of the Country Music Association, was Billboard’s Man of the Year in 1962 and is vice-president of RIAA.  Starday was founded in 1952 in Los Angeles and moved here in 1957.

Recently (Billboard, Oct. 26) Starday acquired the King Records operation.  Those holdings included the record and distribution operation and masters, Lois Music and its publishing subsidiaries, the Royal Plastics Pressing operation, and the long-term contract of Brown.  Starday holdings include Hollywood, Look and Nashville Records, and Starday, Tarheel and Kamar Music.

Bonus Craft Project!  Make Your Own King Records stationery

King Records stationeryAdditional history on Keith Murphy in this interview from 60sGarageBands.com

King’s “Red River Rock” Cash-In

Catchy King instrumental — and what is that instrument, exactly?  Sounds like a blend of organ and harmonica, most likely:

“New Annie Laurie”     Gene Redd     1960

New Annie Laurie” seems an obvious attempt by King to “cash in” on the fresh organ retooling of “Red River Rock” made famous the previous year by Johnny and the Hurricanes, although without directly resorting to plagiarism, cleverly enough, by using an olde Scotch ballad.

Billboard‘s review of the single in its October 10, 1960 edition would have this to say about the A-side “New Sidewalks of New York” — “Gene Redd sells this happy rocker with warmth on this driving instrumental side, it’s the old tune dressed up with a rocking beat” — and then, hilariously, utter two words “same comment” about the B-side “New Annie Laurie”!  Worth noting that Redd covered “Red River Rock” for King the previous year.

Gene Redd 45Brian Powers’ King Records Scrapbook informs me that Redd, originally a session player and King artist who became a talent scout for the label, would go on to do arrangements for Kool & the Gang, for which his son, Gene Redd, Jr., served as manager.

King’s “Tequila” Knock-Off

King Records would try to cash-in on the success of “Tequila” by The Champs, as Johnnie Pate‘s 1958 Federal 45 “Muskeeta” would demonstrate:

Johnnie Pate’s     “Muskeeta”     1958

Johnnie Pate (b, ldr); Ronald Wilson (fl); Williams Wallace (p); Wilbur Wynne (g); Donald Clark (d).

Chicago, March 20, 1958

According to Armin Büttner‘s Johnnie Pate history website, the version of “Muskeeta” on the French EP (below) is exactly the same as the version on King LP 584, but for a tenor sax probably overdubbed by Ronald Wilson himself.  It is not yet known, which version of “Muskeeta” is on Federal 45-12325.

Johnnie Pate - Muskeeta - French EPThis would not be the first time King Records would attempt to mine this particular vein, as Zero to 180’s lengthy examination of “Rare & Unissued King Tracks” revealed another 45 released that same year, “Snake Charmer” by The Puddle Jumpers that attempted to ride the coattails of “Tequila” and its unexpected meteoric ride.

Billboard‘s April 21, 1958 edition would report that “Muskeeta” made the #5 spot of “R&B Best Sellers” that week in the Cincinnati area.  Song would be included on 1958 full-length release Swingin’ Flute Dance Beat for the Ivy League.

Johnnie Pate King LP

Lue Renney’s Novelty 45 on King

Lue Renney‘s quirky and endearing “Your Wiggle And Your Giggle” would be recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on January 27, 1964:

“Your Wiggle And Your Giggle”     Lue Renney     1964

45Cat informs us this song would be issued May, 1964 on King’s Bethlehem subsidiary label.  A half century later, this “teen-rock” 45 sells for a respectable amount at auction.  “Your Wiggle and Your Giggle” merited inclusion on French bootleg LP Inferno Party, as well as Dutch bootleg compilation More Real Gone Girls.

As with Lord BooBoo, Little Mummy, and Carolyn Blakey, this one release would comprise the full extent of Lue Renney’s entire recorded output (although copyright records show that that artist would register her song “Time to Love” later that same year under the name Lue Rennebaum).

Lue Renney Bethlehem 45-a

It’s been over a year since Zero to 180 has posted a piece tagged as humor & satire

$500+ Rhythm & Blues LP

The Five Keys, during their short stint with King Records, would carry out three recording sessions between 1959-1960 that would yield two albums for the label.  One album, Rhythm & Blues Hits:  Past and Present, would be released in 1960, while the other self-titled album would be released, oddly enough, 17 years later on the Gusto subsidiary.  Note that the Five Keys original King album can fetch over $500!

Five Keys LP

One song title in particular seems to call attention to itself – “Your Teeth and Tongue (Will Get You Hung)” — fittingly, the album’s final track.  Could this be an attempt at social protest, not unlike Lowman Pauling & the Five Royales’ “The Slummer the Slum”.  Still decoding the lyric, but if true, might explain why this song was never put out for single release (*correction:  Gusto would issue this song as a B-side in 1982).

The Capitol LP displayed in the YouTube audio clip below injects a bit of confusion into the mix:  Is this version (as it appears to sound) the 1959 King recording, or could it be an earlier version from 1954 that would not see release until 35 years later?

“Your Teeth and Your Tongue (Will Get You Hung)”     The Five Keys     1959

Production and groove sounds more like 1959 to me than 1954, wouldn’t you agree?  “Your Teeth & Your Tongue” was recorded August 18, 1959 at King’s Cincinnati studio.

Carolyn Blakey’s 45: Very 1970

Man Came Down From the Mountain” — the B-side to Carolyn Blakey‘s one and only 45 for King Records — captures the mood and feeling of 1970 in ways that words cannot adequately express.

“Man Came Down From the Mountain”     Carolyn Blakey     1970

According to Discogs.com contributor 1stVerse:

Although this record bears the “James Brown Production” logo, the labels credit a Steve Baron as the actual producer of both tracks.  Baron is also the songwriter on both of these tunes, which to me are reminiscent of the kind of sophisticated funk that Galt MacDermot was turning out around this same period.  I’m sure JB approved.

Carolyn Blakey King 45-aaCarolyn Blakey King 45-bb

Blakey would be identified as “Cincinnati Talent in Action” by Billboard in its May 23, 1970 edition:

Dennis Wholey, a resident of New York since his syndicated talk show bearing his name was chucked by WKRC-TV five months ago, was a visitor here last week, accompanied by singer Carolyn Blakey, whom he has under contract.  Miss Blakey cut a session at King Records here, with Wholey monitoring.  Her initial release on the label some months ago was “Tomorrow’s Child.”  Now working out of the William Morris office, Dennis is still mulling the idea of presenting The Who here, with he as emcee.

Carolyn Blakey’s lone King 45 (as with Lord BooBoo) would appear to be the full extent of her entire professional recorded output.  This obscure single trades for a healthy two figures at auction.

Little Mummy’s Lone 45 – on King

This other one-off recording from 1957 – released on King subsidiary label, Federal – establishes a Cincinnati-New Orleans connection via musical artist, Little Mummy (i.e., Marvin Gauthreaux):

“Where You At Jack”     Little Mummy     1957

Where You At” and its flip side “Oh Baby Please” were both recorded in New Orleans.

Little Mummy 45-aaLittle Mummy 45-bb

45Cat informs me that Marvin Gauthreaux also recorded as Phil Marvin on at least two singles for different Louisiana labels.

Little Mummy picture sleeve“Where You At Jack” included on a thoughtfully compiled double LP of King material – Teach Me to Monkey – released on Spanish label, Vampi Soul in 2010 and issued, thankfully, on Gusto here in the US.

Lord BooBoo’s Lone 45 – on King

Lord BooBoo‘s lone single release on King Records would end up being the calypso singer’s entire recorded output!  Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography reports that Lord BooBoo laid down these two tracks – “De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon” b/w “No Man and Woman Get Along” – in NYC on April Fool’s Day, 1957.

“De Knife, De Fork, De Spoon”     Lord BooBoo     1957

Note that this single was issued on 10-inch (78) as well as 7-inch (45) vinyl.

Lord BooBoo 78-aLord BooBoo 45-a

Zero to 180’s Midwest correspondent, Mike Rep Hummel, notes that Earl Robbins, the song’s creator and undoubtedly Lord BooBoo himself, recorded a couple of split singles that same year for Cincinnati label, Gateway, where (as you might recall) my brother’s father-in-law served as vocalist under the pseudonym, Jack Daniels.

Earl Robbins 78

Mickey Baker on a King Surf LP

Session guitarist Mickey (“Love Is Strange“) Baker — whose work would grace dozens of releases by King Records and its subsidiaries — would end up being allotted exactly one solo album by the label as an artist in his own right:  1963’s But Wild.

Mickey Baker King LP

Recorded in Paris in June of 1962, this album would feature Baker’s guitar (as Michel Ruppli’s King Label discography would seem to indicate) overdubbed onto instrumental tracks – licensed from the Versailles label – of French studio musicians.

King would release three 45s from But Wild:  “Baby Let’s Dance” b/w “Oh Yeah, Ah, Ah” in 1963, “Steam Roller” b/w “Side Show” in 1964, and “Do What You Do” b/w “Night Blue” in 1965.

Mickey Baker King 45-aaMickey Baker King 45-bbMickey Baker King 45-cc

Note the degree to which this rare King LP commands big bucks at auction, according to Popsike.  One seller on Collector’s Frenzy describes But Wild as “Shadows/Ventures guitar instrumental rock.”  In fact, “Zanzie” (along with “Gone”) would end up being rightfully pressed into service on King surf compilation album, Surfin’ on Wave Nine, a fairly obscure release that also changes hands at respectable prices:

“Zanzie”     Mickey Baker     1962

Baker’s 2012 obituary in the New York Times notes, sadly, that he moved to France in the early 1960s and “rarely returned to the United States.”

King would eventually get around to issuing “Love Is Strange” in 1964, eight years after the song originally hit the charts.

Mickey Baker King 45-d

Rare & Unissued King Tracks II

R  A  R  E       K  I  N  G       T  R  A  C  K  S *

Merle Travis — along with Grandpa Jones — would inaugurate King Records in 1943 as the first two musical artists to record for Syd Nathan.  But because both musicians were under contract to Powell Crosley’s WLW (“The Nation’s Station“), Travis and Jones would record under assumed names (i.e., ‘The Sheppard Brothers’ and ‘Bob McCarthy’) in the next big city north of Cincinnati:  Dayton.  Nearly lost in history’s shuffle is this interesting historical tidbit:  Merle Travis’s lone King recording as a solo artist (“What Will I Do“) would be captured in 1944, while King was still in its embryonic stages, but kept in the can for nearly 20 years until issued in 1963, along with tracks from other country artists, in a compilation album entitled Nashville Bandstand (no audio for this track yet on YouTube).

Includes rare 1944 track by Merle Travis, depicted below by upside down guitar

king-nashville-bandstand-lp-1963

[Merle Travis and Grandpa Jones would also team up with The Delmore Brothers (Alton & Rabon) as The Brown’s Ferry Four, a gospel quartet (augmented by Louis Innis on guitar and Ray Starkey/Red Foley on bass), whose final recording sessions in 1951 and 1952 would take place in Cincinnati at the King Studios.]

fairley-holden-king-45-aaHumorous song titles of rare early King 78s:

In-Laws as Butt of Joke (part 2)

james-duncan-45-aaa

One other notable early comic title:   In September of 1945, King Records released a 78 by The Carlisle Brothers whose B-side — “Baby You Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me” — features an infectious chorus and sweet swooping lap steel (click on audio link below):

“Baby You Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me”     The Carlisle Brothers     1945

The audio clip above was posted on YouTube (as I type these words on October 10, 2016) just 10 days prior on September 30th

This same song would be covered thirteen years later by rockabilly duo Tag & Effie and released on Kentucky indie, Summit, in 1958.  Notably, Tag Willoughby would take songwriting credit in spite of what Cliff Carlisle (and/or Syd Nathan) might have to say:

“Baby, You Done Flubbed Your Dub With Me”     Tag & Effie     1958

Mental Floss‘s “Five Candidates for the First Rock ‘n’ Roll Song” rightly selects Wynonie Harris‘s “Good Rocking Tonight” (recorded December 28, 1947 at King’s Cincinnati studios) and even cites Arthur Crudup‘s “That’s All Right Mama” from 1946.  And yet the term rock ‘n’ roll did not appear in song titles until 1954, although mostly 1955.  Which is what makes the song “Rock and Roll Blues” by Erline Harris — recorded April, 1949 and released on Deluxe, a King subsidiary purchased by Syd Nathan in 1947 — remarkably ahead of the curve.

 Recorded in 1949 (!)erline-harris-king-deluxe-45-aa

Jazz pioneer and long-time NPR (“Piano Jazz“) host, Marian McPartland, would have exactly one encounter with King Records:  a NYC recording session March 15, 1951 that resulted in 4 songs [“Flamingo“; “It’s Delovely“; “Liebestraum No. 3“; “Four Brothers“] that would enjoy release in the US, UK, and France.  In additional to two 78 releases, King subsidiary, Federal, would issue a playfully-titled EPProgressive Piano with Cello, Harp, Bass and Drums — in 1954, while these same songs would be issued in the UK four years later under the title of the Cole Porter track, It’s Delovely.

                        1954 Federal EP                        1951 FRENCH 78 – with Art Deco lettering

marian-mcpartland-federal-king-ep-aamarian-mcpartland-swing-king-78-aa

The father of New Orleans piano playing — “Professor Longhair” (i.e., Henry RoelandRoyByrd) — would cross paths with King Records by way of a single New Orleans recording session – December 4, 1951 – that yielded four songs:  “K.C. Blues“; “Curley Haired Baby“; “Rocking with Fes“; and “Gone So Long.”  These four songs would be divided between two single releases on Federal, while “Gone So Long” would also be included on 1963 King compilation album Everybody’s Favorite Blues.roy-byrd-king-federal-45-aaroy-byrd-king-federal-78-aa

Remember Zero to 180’s musical salute to gritsRed McAllister‘s “Eggs & Grits” from 1952 — co-written by Henry Glover — would be King’s great contribution to this elite assemblage of rib-sticking musical morsels.

Henry Glover would also be one of the three songwriters behind “Pig Latin Blues” — playfully articulated by LaVern Baker (backed by The Todd Rhodes Orchestra) — a song recorded July 1, 1952 in Cincinnati.todd-rhodes-orch-king-45-aaGeorge Stogner would find a way to fuse boogie with hot rodding — “Hardtop Race” — in 1953, two years before Charley Ryan’s original “Hot Rod Lincoln.”george-stogner-king-78-aaMusical Synchronicity:  Two mambo-themed songs were recorded at Cincinnati’s King studios on the very same day — November 12, 1954:  “Mambo Honky Tonk” by The Morgan Sisters (no audio yet on YouTube) + “Tennessee Mambo” by Bonnie Lou.king-mambo-45-aaking-mambo-45-bb

Clearly, 1954 was the year of the mambo, just judging by the titles of all 4 songs recorded by Don Ippolito & His Orchestra on December 14, 1954: “Camptown Races Mambo,” “Swanee River Mambo,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game Mambo” & “Can’t Do It Mambo.”don-ippolito-king-45-aaIn Billboard‘s August 28, 1954 edition, a piece entitled ‘Coinmen You Know – Miami’ states that “Henry Stone, A&R man for DeLuxe Records, signed The Three Harmonicaires, [harmonica trio] winners on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show, to a recording contract and now predicts their first number will be a hit.”three-harmonicaires-deluxe-king-78-bbHenry Glover would also co-write Red Klimo‘s “Grandma Loves to Rock ‘n’ Roll” — recorded February 2, 1956 in Chicago.

Yet another patented King “bio-disc” (thanks, RANDY MCNUTT!)

red-klimo-king-45-aaThe same month Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”/”Don’t Be Cruel” was riding high in the charts, King would release a Boyd Bennett 45 with a jump blues A-side (“Hit That Jive Jack“) but a rockabilly B-side (“Rabbit-Eye Pink and Charcoal Black“) in August, 1956.

According to Bluegrass:  A History by Neil Rosenberg:

“Many bluegrass bands incorporated Elvis spoofs into their comedy routines, further testimony to their fans that they were on the right side of the rock and roll controversy.  Thus in August [27] of 1956 [in Cincinnati], when Reno and Smiley made their first recordings since becoming a full-time group, included was Don Reno’s “Country Boy Rock and Roll,” a tongue-in-cheek anthem to the joys of the music:  ‘I guess to some folks I look foolish, Just let ’em make a fool out of me.’”

reno-smiley-king-45-asAmong the earliest recordings in the canon of truck driving country giant, Dave Dudley:  the toe-tappin’, roots-rockin’ “Rock and Roll Nursery Rhyme” — recorded March 28, 1956 in Cincinnati (a 45 that today commands a healthy two figures at auction).dave-dudley-king-45-aaExactly one King recording session in Cincinnati on February 12, 1956 for The Rockers, whose membership would include Annie Mae (i.e., Tina) Turner on keys and Ike Turner on strings.  “What Am I to Do” features the commanding guitar work of Turner, who would return to Cincinnati the following year on April 9th fronting his own band, Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm (with Jackie Brenston) — six songs recorded that day, including “Rock-a-Bucket.”

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It would be almost criminal not to point out an overlooked B-side by Lowman PaulingMessinUp — a rockin’ doo wop song from The Five Royales (with stellar guitar sounds from El Pauling himself), that was recorded August 13, 1957 in Cincinnati.

Snake Charmer” by The Puddle Jumpers – on their one and only session – sure sounds like King trying to cash in on the runaway success of 1958’s “Tequila” by The Champs (previously examined here).  Note the decent prices being paid for the group’s Federal 45s.

Tiny Topsy would find a way to fuse cowboy-shoot-’em-ups with doo-wop rock in 1958’s “Western Rock ‘n’ Roll” — a song that also slyly quotes from some of the early classics of the genre, including “Lollipop” (The Chordettes), “Get a Job” (The Silhouettes), “At the Hop” (Danny & the Juniors), “Short Shorts” (The Royal Teens).  Note the decent prices being paid for this single at auction.tiny-topsy-king-federal-45-aaGene Redd and the Globe Trotters would record two songs at Cincinnati’s King studios on September 4, 1959 that comprised a 45 (King 5262), with one tune in particular transcribed by Ruppli (in his 2-volume King discographies) as “SurfinBeat,” as this song is listed on 1964 King surf “cash-in” album, Look Who’s Surfin’ Now.  Really?  A “surf” song two years before Dick Dale & His Deltones’ first 45?!  Unfortunately, the original song title used for the 1959 King 45 release was “Zeen Beat.”gene-redd-king-45-aaBig Moe and the Panics would cover the unstoppable “Tennessee Waltz” for the teen set in 1959, with their hard-to-find “Tennessee Waltz Rock45 EP on King-owned Audio Lab.big-moe-the-panics-king-45-aCheck out the decent prices being paid for original King 45s by The Mascots:  lead singer, Eddie Levert, along with William Powell, Bobby Massey & Bill Isles — a band that would become The O’Jays in 1963.  Among the songs recorded June 27, 1960 in Cincinnati at King’s studios:  “Lonely Rain.”

Songwriter/producer (and future King talent scout) Ray Pennington would record a “popcorn/rockabilly” hybrid for King subsidiary Federal — “Three Hearts in a Tangle” — (under the name Ray Starr) on July 15, 1960 in Cincinnati.  Pennington, by the way, features prominently in the ace roots-rock (non-King) compilation Great Rockers from Cincinnati.

first of two (non-King) albums by Ray Pennington & steel master, BUDDY EMMONS

buddy-emmons-ray-pennington-lp-aaThe Twist” (not everyone knows) was originally a King B-side for Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, before Chubby Checker ran away with this freakish hit, as a result of Ballard’s failure to keep his date with destiny on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand dance program.  King clearly felt the pain, as noted in blood-red ink on the label for The Escos novelty 45 “Thank You Mister Ballard (For Creating the Twist)” — a song that was recorded November 22, 1961 in Cincinnati:  “ATTENTION DJ:  These are the cold hard facts.  Hank Ballard composed the song and created the dance … THE TWIST.”escos-federal-king-45-aaVery eager to hear whether King artists, The Shilohs, managed to capture on record the authentic sound of a “Rebel Yell” in 1961 — exactly one hundred years after our nation’s war against itself had begun.

[Note:  streaming audio unavailable unless the song title in question has a hyperlink]

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Also curious to hear The Stanley Brothers song with the oddball title “Big Booger” (recorded September 17, 1963 in Cincinnati) that is only available on 1963 King LP America’s Finest 5-String Banjo Hootenanny (reissued in 1977 on Starday).  It is possible (though not probable) that “Big Booger” would inspire Mac Davis to write and record “Uncle Booger Red and Byrdie Nelle” for his 1970 debut album.

stanley-brothers-king-lp-aaTry Me, a King-owned subsidiary that served as an outlet for James Brown productions, would issue a groovy two-part organ instrumental – “Devil’s Den” – by The Poets [i.e., Brown’s backing band] that was recorded March, 1963 at King’s Cincinnati studios, along with one other track “The Thing in G” that would find release on Brown’s Prisoner of Love album.  Ruppli’s discography credits Alvin Gonder with organ — and JB himself with “shouts.”poets-king-45-aaAlmost afraid to hear the A-side of Doris King‘s (rare) single for King — “Dumb Dumb” — released in 1966, as the title reminds me of Ginny Arnell’s horribly insensitive “Dumbhead” from 1963.

Sorry, kiddos — streaming audio not available

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Rockabilly crime fighter, Delbert Barker (previously celebrated here) would record his final King 45 in Cincinnati on April 17, 1966 — “Color Me Gone” — a song for which no audio clips exist on YouTube.delbert-barker-king-45-aaAnother rare King 45 from 1966 – John Ukhart‘s “The Biggest Thrill” b/w “Death Row” – (note the prisoner ID #) was recorded at the King-affiliated studio in Macon, Georgia.john-ukhart-king-45-aaIntrigued to hear the hauntingly-titled “Last Year, Senior Prom (This Year, Vietnam)” by Mary Moultrie – recorded in Cincinnati on April 17, 1966 – the flip side of the highly-sought “northern soul” dance track “They’re Trying to Tear Us Apart” for which people are prepared to pay up to three figures at auction.

One Vietnam-themed King release that is available for preview on YouTube:  Jaci Damon‘s “A Place Called Vietnam” from the summer of 1967.jaci-damon-king-45-aaSpeaking of 1967, here is King’s brief intersection with “psychedelic” music:

1971 Wild Goose ‘psych 45’ on King-owned Agapewild-goose-king-agape-45-aa

James Brown on organ, accompanied by three of The Dapps [Tim Drummond (bass), WilliamBeau DollarBowman (drums), Eddie Setser (guitar)] and possibly a fourth [Tim Hedding (if not, Bobby Byrd) on piano], would record a wryly-titled instrumental, “Shhhhhhhh (For a Little While)” March 5, 1968 at King’s Cincinnati studios.james-brown-king-45-ccOn a related note, check out the three-figure sums being paid for rare King 45 by The Soul Believers with The Dapps — “I Don’t Want Nobody’s Troubles” b/w “I’m With You” — recorded October 23, 1968 in Cincinnati.soul-believers-dapps-king-45-aaMarvel at this rare live footage of Marva Whitney — along with the rock-solid support of James Brown’s backing band, The JBs — singing “It’s My Thing” from 1969.

Delight in the discovery that Bill Doggett once laid down 2 songs — “For Once In My Life” and “Twenty Five Miles” — at a recording facility in Detroit (c. February, 1969) with a studio band produced by Motown founder-in-chief, Berry Gordy.  These tracks would form the respective A and B sides of a King 45 that easily commands two figures at auction (and whose flip side only would be included on 1969’s Honky Tonk Popcorn album).

1969 Bill Doggett B-side in “far-out” King sleeve

bill-doggett-king-45-aaVery rare King truck driving 45Bethel King‘s “Addicted to a Truck” from 1968 — that I hope will turn up one day in my lifetime.  Needless to say, no streaming audio.bethel-kings-king-45-aaSome of us are curious to hear “31 Flavors” by The Las Vegas Ambassadors — recorded in Las Vegas on June 13, 1970 – fairly obscure King 45.las-vegas-ambassadors-king-45-aa1970 would also see the release of a song — “Classical Popsicle” — used as the lead-off track for a King full-length release Have a Heart, written by Arnold Bodmer of the group Heart (not the Wilson Sisters of “Barracuda” fame).   heart-king-lp-aaAnother hard-to-come-by King 45:  Lewie Wickham‘s “Liberated Woman” from 1970 …lewie-wickham-king-45-a… as well as the LP from whence the single came — on which Lewie is joined by brother Hank Wickham, not to mention Johnny Dagucon (on his debut/sole recording effort).hank-lewie-wickham-johnny-dagucon-king-lp-aaMusical Mystery:   A formerly long-lost predecessor to The JB’s 1972 debut album on King subsidiary, People — 1971’s These Are the JB’s — was rescued from obscurity in 2014 as a vinyl release and then re-pressed again in 2015.  As BlackGrooves explains, “the album was recorded in 1971 for King Records just before the band’s catalogue got bought out by Polydor.  Only a few test pressings were produced, and they were presumed to have been lost.”  Of the four songs recorded — including “These Are the JB’s” & “I’ll Ze” —  the final medley is notable for including portions of “Let The Music Take Your Mind” (Kool & The Gang and Gene Redd Jr.), “Chicken Strut” (The Meters), and “Power Of Soul” (Jimi Hendrix).jbs-king-test-pressing-aa45Cat suggests that Indiana‘s cover of Bobby Darin & Terry Melcher‘s “My Mom” might have been released in the UK (November, 1971) before the US (1972).  Curious, if true.
indiana-king-45-aaAny pressures exerted on the band – White Cloud – to cover a song (“Hound Dog“) written by the (then) new owners of Starday-King, Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller, on their self-titled 1972 debut (and only) album issued on Starday-King subsidiary, Good Medicine?white-cloud-king-45-aaSmiling Faces would eke out two 45s in 1972 for Starday-King, the first – “Younger Girl” – being infinitely easier to locate than the second – “Tulsa Oklahoma” – whose very existence (King 6424) is still being debated by the nation’s top researchers.  smiling-faces-king-45-aaKing would release exactly one single by The Sanfords (featuring Gary S. Paxton) in 1972 — “Skinny Dippin’” b/w “A Rare and Ordinary Thing” — with one more song in the can (“You’re My Everything”).   Just as with the previous five 45s mentioned, no streaming audio.

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Finally, Mike Wheeler — who would later form a band, Wheels, that would enjoy a big boost in  popularity (as The Raisins did) due to their appearance on 1980 TV talent showcase Rock Around the Block — recorded 2 songs on April 10,1972 that would be released as a (hard-to-find) 45 on Agape:  “Rocky Forge” b/w “Worn Out Leather.”
Bonus linkWheels performing “Keep Movin’ On” — sung/written by Michael Baney — a song that also served as the kick-off track for WEBN’s 2nd Album Project (annual compilation of Cincinnati-area bands) from 1977.

Rare Slim Gaillard 78s on King “race” subsidiary label, Queenslim-gaillard-king-78-on-queen-aaslim-gaillard-king-78-on-queen-bb

Rare Slim Gaillard EPS ON KING that COMMAND BIG BUCKS at auctionslim-gaillard-king-ep-bbslim-gaillard-king-ep-aa

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U  N  I  S  S  U  E  D     K  I  N  G     T  R  A  C  K  S *

DC‘s ownBillStewart (previously celebrated here) recorded a version of “Fat Boy” in Cincinnati (!) on May 12, 1961 that remains unheard to this day.

The King vaults also contain an unissued instrumental (and possible “twist” composition) “Louisiana Twist” that is attributed, curiously, to vocalist Little Willie John (who once issued a rare version of “Fever” with strings) — recorded in Cincinnati on March 6, 1962.

King’s attempt to cash in on surf music (see previous story on The Impacs) would also produce a compilation album (and future Zero to 180 piece) Surfin’ on Wave Nine.  Left in the King vaults are a pair by The Nu-Trons, including “Don’t Give Me No Phony Love.”

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Also in the King vaults is something by Tonni Kalash, second trumpeter for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (who released a lone King 45 “The Boss” b/w “Shuckin’“):    a single unissued track entitled “The Surf” that was recorded April 2, 1962.

Speaking of shuckin’, King’s vaults also contain two tracks recorded by Carl Thomas in Macon, Georgia on January 11, 1964:  “Just Shuckin’” (as well as “Off Beat Boogie”).

Don’t forget the stellar soul tune — 1966’s “Ain’t You Glad” by Mill Evans — that sat in the can for 35 years until valiantly rescued by UK’s Kent Records [as reported here] in 2001.mill-evans-king-45-bbEdgar Allen & the PoFolks would record two tunes, “My Tears Are Drippin‘ (in Coffee That I’m Sippin‘)” and “Dennys Tune,” c. March, 1967 that have never enjoyed release.

One humorous (and particularly long-winded) early unissued song title:
“(I Didn’t Think You’d Really Go) I Didn’t Think You’d Ever Leave Me” — Hank Penny from October, 1946 — a song also covered by Moon Mullican in October, 1946 and then likewise locked away in the vaults!

In James Brown-related news:

  • The Dapps (previously celebrated here and here) have a few tunes in the King vaults that have never been issued including “White Christmas”; “I Can’t Stand Myself”; “Who Knows”; and two other tracks recorded in Cincinnati — “I’ll Give You Odds” (March, 1968) and “Later for the Saver” (December, 1968).
  • Cincinnati musician, and one-time James Brown sparring partner, Dee Felice, would record quite a few songs that remain in the King vaults, including (besides JB covers such as “Cold Sweat”) what might be an original tune, “Double Funky” that was recorded in Cincinnati on December 10, 1969.
  • Also in King’s vaults by the aforementioned William HargisBeau DollarBowman:  “My Concerto” (c. Spring, 1969) and “Funky Street (January, 1970).
  • AlfredPee WeeEllis would record his own version of “Soul Pride (pts. 1 & 2)” in the summer of 1968 that will not likely see the light of day, as well as (veiled message perhaps?) “Time for My Release” later that October in Miami.
  • Ruppli’s King discography has a listing for “More Mess on My Thing (pt. 1 & 2)” by The New Dapps [i.e., The Pacesetters:  William “Bootsy” Collins, Phelps “Catfish” Collins, Frank “Kash” Waddy & Phillip (pre-Spinners) Wynne] — according to Bootsy, September, 1969.  Even though a 45 release is indicated (King 6271), a strange thing happens when you numerically scroll to that number on this King Records 6000 Series 45 Discography —  6271 & 6272 are both identical:   Arthur Prysock “23rd Psalm” b/w “I Believe”!   Some funny business there.  Sadly, no King 45 for The New Dapps.  Notice that Ohio Soul Recordings, for instance, lists it as an actual 45 release.
  • James Brown himself would record a song whose title would be used as a band name for a Maceo Parker-led outfit of former JB sidemen – “All the King’s Men” – in Cincinnati on November 5, 1970 that remains unissued (as is a track recorded the previous month in Macon, Georgia — “We Need Liberation“).
  • Vicki Anderson would record — in Washington, DC on January 26, 1971– an unreleased version of “Wheels of Life,” a song that would be recorded several months later by Lyn Collins and released on 1972’s Think (About It) album.
  • Psychedelic soul rockers Grodeck Whipperjenny, led by James Brown associate David Matthews (previously celebrated here) have one track sitting in the King vaults — “Ain’t It Jellyroll” (possibly from early 1971).

Elaine Armstrong (vocalist and civil rights pioneer previously celebrated here) would record two songs that remain in the King vaults, including “Tears Begin to Fall.”Elaine ArmstrongBlues & soul singer/guitarist Albert Washington would record a number of songs that remain locked away, including “Without Love Ain’t It a Shame” — recorded in Cincinnati on October 16, 1970.

1971 Albert Washington 45 on Deluxe (Label Revived by Starday-King)albert-washington-deluxe-45-aa

A group whose name requires a pronunciation guide — The Prix’s — recorded two songs in early 1968 (“The Smoother” & “Take Everything“) likely to remain forever unheard.

First Fridaywhose one and only album recorded for Webster’s Last Word – laid down some demos for Starday-King at their Nashville studios in June, 1970 that included some songs that made the album (such as kick-off tune “Nice Day for Something“; “Wings to Fly”; “Such a Lot to Say”) and songs that didn’t (“Last Night’s Foolin’ Around”; “49th Street Rag”).

Frank Gorshin of TV’s Batman fame (previously celebrated here) recorded a handful of songs that remain permanently sequestered, including “Love Slave” — recorded in Nashville June 3, 1970.

Mike Appel¿the same Mike Appel who was Bruce Springsteen’s manager at the time? – recorded at least 10 songs (“Queen of the Harvest”; “Timber Clown” et al.) for Starday-King in 1972.  Note that “Queen of the Harvest” is the title of a song listed on Mike Appel’s website as being one for which he owns all the publishing rights and master recordings.

Be sure to check out an earlier related piece:   King Records: Oddball Historical Tidbits   *[Primary Information Source:   The King Labels:  A Discography by Michel Ruppli]

Mike Stoller (left) & Jerry Leiber (right)

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⇒⇒⇒     45 Years Ago This Month:   Leiber & Stoller Buy King Records!     ⇐⇐⇐

As Billboard reported 45 years ago this month (under the headline, “Starday-King Pubs Sold for $1.4 Mil“) in its October 2, 1971 edition:

NASHVILLE — The Starday-King label and its publishing firms have been sold by Lin Broadcasting Co. to a group of music executives including one of its former officers.

Hal Neely, President of Starday-King and an offical of Lin until the time of purchase, leads the purchasers.  Sale price was listed at $1.4 million.  Offices will remain here, under the new name of Tennessee Recording and Publishing Co., Inc.

Other purchasers were the songwriting team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, and Fred Bienstock, a former executive with Hill & Range.

Neely and his associates will receive all of the Lin Music division’s “current and fixed assets, to include receivables, copyrights, and publishing interests, recorded masters, inventory, contracts, real estate, studios in Nashville, Cincinnati, and Macon, Ga., and the pressing and printing plant in Cincinnati.”

Lin had indicated some time ago it was interested in selling its music division.  It had acquired Starday-King shortly after the two firms, Starday here and King in Cincinnati, had merged.

Starday, formed as a country music label by Pappy Dailey and Jack Starnes, was later acquired by Don Pierce, who was its president for a number of years.  After the Lin purchase, Hal Neely became president, and Pierce moved into an advisory capacity.

King, too, was originally a country label, but later became deeply involved in the development of rhythm and blues.  One of its top performers, James Brown, recently moved to Polydor in a contract sale.  Starday, too, divested itself of some of its leading talent, many of whom moved to Chart Records.  However, the company retains artists with both labels.

There will be immediate releases with the existing artists, who are listed as The Coasters, J. David Sloan, The Manhattans, Jack(y) Ward, Gloria Walker, Max Powell, and White Cloud.  Additionally, there will be product release on Red Sovine, who has moved to Chart.

Tennessee Recording and Publishing will continue to release and distribute the King, Starday, Deluxe, Nashville, Agape and Federal labels.

Coda:  For Whom the Bell Tolls

Billboard‘s February 5, 1972 edition would include the following grim announcement:

“EQUIPMENT FOR SALE.  Pressing — Printing — Plating — Milling — Fabrications — Art Cameras — Recording Studio Equipment.

King Records, Cincinnati, Ohio is liquidating its Complete Pressing and Printing Plant and Recording Studio.  7″ and 12″.

All Equipment First Class.  Guaranteed.  Opportunity for Export.

Contact:  Johnny Miller
1540 Brewster Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45207
(513) KL5-KING”