Perhaps it is time to replace the Maryland state anthem — you know, the Rebel marching song from 1861 that beseeches Marylanders to “spurn the northern scum” and thereby follow Virginia’s example on the whole secession question — with something else altogether. Something much more uplifting, celebratory, and inclusive. That doesn’t also do double duty as a Christmas carol.
To that end, Zero to 180 – as a public service – would like to offer the following song as a replacement for “Maryland, My Maryland“:
“Maryland” The Crazy Five 1973
With lyrics that everyone can get behind, and a singalong chorus that no Marylander can resist, who cares that “Maryland” never enjoyed release beyond Germany’s borders? “Maryland, My Maryland” is likewise German, and besides, we are a nation of immigrants. Borrowing from other cultures is an American pastime.
Crazy Five‘s relative obscurity and limited output (i.e., one 45) means a good deal for the taxpayers and a modest investment, ultimately, in civic pride. Tess Teiges and Walt Wister, the songwriting team behind “Maryland,” have been out of the music scene since 1975 — I suspect both would be grateful for the income and happy to negotiate a fair and reasonable sum for all parties involved.
Tony Horwitz, whose Confederates in the Attic, helped inspire this piece, was kind enough to share his response to this proposal for Maryland’s new state song in September of 2016:
Chris, thanks for your note, and I like your suggestion viz state song. Have to say, having since lived in Virginia and Massachusetts where state identity runs very strong, Maryland is challenged in that respect, since it’s such a pastiche of disparate parts and belongs to the dreaded “mid-Atlantic” doesn’t have a clear regional identity either. State pride’s never been my thing, and I like that Maryland has become fairly representative of our diverse nation at large, perhaps it’s individuality could be to choose to not have a state song at all!
“Maryland, My Maryland”: Retain or Retire?
Should the Maryland legislature — as Maryland State Senator Cheryl Kagan and the Washington Post editorial board insist — return “Maryland, My Maryland” (written in 1861, but only designated the official state song in 1939) to the history from whence it came? Or, would that be a well-intended exercise in historical revisionism and — as Governor Hogan would assert — “political correctness run amok“?
Three out of four Civil War monuments in Baltimore, as Marc Steiner points out, honor the Confederacy. Baltimore’s violent (and murderous) response to the sight of federal troops disembarking by rail on Pratt Street en route to the Federal City, it is worth noting, took place just one week after the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter. Maryland stayed on the side of the Union, but only because President Lincoln ensured that outcome, yes? Bethesda, Maryland’s William Safire – in his 1984 essay, “Patriotic Gore,” for the New York Times – mocks those who would want to deny the state’s anti-Union, pro-slavery past.
Please contact Zero to 180 if you have the historical bona fides to answer this question: Does “Maryland, My Maryland” reflect the sentiments of a majority of the state’s residents 150 years ago when Americans took up arms against each other?
I stumbled upon a pretty snappy A-side that is virtually unknown, and what a shame, given the sibling harmonizing and wonderfully oddball percussion sounds during the instrumental section that would be nearly impossible to produce with our current technology. Song clocks in at 103 seconds — and not a single one wasted:
“Juke Box Play for Me” The Cook Brothers 195?
I love the redacted song title/author info on the record label above — makes listening to the song almost seem a criminal act.
Released on tiny Cleveland indie Island, the same label that released the 45 featured in the previous piece on Hardrock Gunter, who is or is not the same singer as Buddy Durham — RCS sure seems to indicate so (“SEE: Gunter, Hardrock”), while PragueFrank identifies Durham as a separate human entity (who once teamed up with Gunter at Wheeling’s WWVA radio station ca. 1962 to record a Starday 45 “Hillbilly Twist” + “As Long As You’re Happy”).
The Cook Brothers, judging from this news item in the May 20, 1957 edition of Billboard, had been a featured act for WWVA at one point. Two years prior in 1955, the brothers, Chuck and Jim (“Accompanied by Their Rocky Ridge Boys”) would record two singles for Wheeling-based Emperor. Three singles would appear to be their entire recorded output.
This recording of Hardrock Gunter‘s mesmerizing voice, with its offbeat hiccup-y rhythms bathed in slapback echo, never fails to enchant:
“Boppin’ to Grandfather’s Clock” Hardrock (“Sidney Jo Lewis”) Gunter 1958
Birmingham, Alabama’s Sidney Louis Gunter, Jr. would record under two other names: Buddy Durham (as noted in the previous piece about the Vandergrift Brothers — possibly in error) and Sidney Jo Lewis, which he used in 1958 to record “Boppin’ to Grandfather’s Clock” on Cleveland indie label, Island. Two years prior, Gunter had already put together the ingredients that would define his signature sound on “Jukebox Help Me Find My Baby,” originally recorded in Wheeling, WV for Cross Country in 1956 before the single got picked up by Sam Phillips‘ and re-released on his vaunted Sun label later that August.
Note the considerably drier sound – not to mention vastly different singing style – on Gunter’s second of three 45s for Cincinnati’s King Records “I’ll Give ’em Rhythm” (b/w “I Put My Britches on Just Like Everybody Else”), recorded in Cincinnati August 19, 1955 (interestingly enough, the same day as Herb & Kay‘s delightful “We Did“):
“I’ll Give ’em Rhythm” Hardrock Gunter 1955
Thanks to UK-charts.com, I am able to transcribe the following information from the Hardrock Gunter “bio disc” (thanks, Randy McNutt!) for the King 45 illustrated in the audio clip above:
“When Hardrock Gunter graduated from high school, he teamed up with Happy Wilson who organized the Golden River Boys. The original members of this group are still doing radio shows. After World War II, Gunter again went back into radio when the Golden River Boys were re-organized. In 1948 Hardrock started managing the unit and acted as personal manager to Happy Wilson until late 1949.”
King would issue another “bio disc” for “Turn the Other Cheek” that gives us the official explanation for Gunter’s stage name:Hardrock Gunter, professionally speaking, leaped right out of the gate, recording his first few singles for mighty Decca, before moving on to MGM, Sun, King, Cross Country, Emperor (“Whoo! I Mean Whee!“), Island, Seeco, Cullman, D, El Dorado, Starday (“Hillbilly Twist“), Gee Gee, Brunswick, Rival, Essgee, Longhorn, Morgun, Rollercoaster, Home Brew, and Jar — possibly others.
Hardrock Gunter rocking a doubleneck MOSRITE on 1999 Dutch 45 recorded in London
Matthew Loukes echos the call for Gunter’s “Birmingham Bounce” of 1950 – which preceded Jackie Brenston & Ike Turner’s “Rocket 88” and was the reason for Decca’s interest – as “first rock ‘n’ roll recording” in his 2013 obituary for the Guardian.
Hardrock Gunter + Hank Williams: Twins Separated at Birth?
Amusing to note that this vocal trio from Davis, West Virginia — Don, Ronnie & Darrell — released a 45 in 1966 on Wheeling’s Emperor label, “Honky Tonk Woman,” a song title that recently inspired a playful sequence of pieces: 1, 2, and 3.
Neither Discogs nor 45Cat, surprisingly, have catalog records for the group’s first King 45 release “The Corner of My Eye” b/w “Tomorrow Never Comes” — recorded June 26, 1961. The following entry in Ruppli’s discography for The Vandergrift Brothers is one lonely “leased” composition entitled “You’re Gone Too Far” that remains unissued to this day, while the third and final entry is the group’s other King 45, “Who Needs Your Cold, Cold Love” b/w “Hello Again Sweet Lips” from 1962 — both songs co-written by Shorty Long and published by (Syd Nathan-affiliated) Lois Music.
Significant to note that two other songs from the final February, 1962 King recording session — “In Trouble With the Law” and “Please Don’t Run Away” — remain in Moe Lytle’s vault, wondering what on earth they ever did to deserve such treatment.
“Trouble With the Law” would live to see another day, fortunately, on the tiny and mysterious, Santa Fe label:
“Trouble With the Law” The Vandergrift Brothers 196?
The Vandergrift Brothers were among the top acts who helped The Wheeling Jamboree celebrate its 30th anniversary, as reported in Billboard’s April 27, 1963 edition, along with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper and the Clinch Mountain Clan, Big Slim, Crazy Elmer & Buddy Durham [a.k.a., Hardrock Gunter, according to RCS — not so, says PragueFrank]. Just four months later, however, WWVA disc jockey, Lee Moore, had informed Billboard that “the ‘World Original Jamboree’ has adopted the policy of importing country music acts from Nashville to augment the ‘Jamboree’ regulars like Doc Williams, Big Slim, and the Vandergrift Brothers”!
“When I leftKing Recordsabout 1956 I guess, Seymour Stein ended up interning there with Syd Nathan. He was a young kid. He must be about 10 years younger than me, must be about 75, or 80 by now.
He fell asleep at my birthday party at the table. He does a great imitation of Syd Nathan, loves to do an imitation of Syd. I became pretty friendly with him through the years. When he left King he was editor of Billboard for a while.
[L to R] George & Susan Goldner, Syd Nathan & Seymour Stein
He penned the charts for Billboard in New York. I used to go up there and see him all the time. And then I used to see him a lot when we went to Cannes, France for the music festival. Every year they have that, they still do. It’s called MIDEM. It’s a big deal. I was going there since the very beginning in the 70s. I used to go there with my TK Productions. I was a big man when I used to go there.
I had the biggest independent music company in the world, and they loved discos and dancing in Europe. I used to hang out with Seymour there and he was just one of those real terrific real record guys. He found Madonna ya know, and The Ramones, The Talking Heads, and he founded the Sire label, that was his, Sire Records. I didn’t know him back in the King days. Syd Nathan and I had already split up. Syd used to talk about that son of a bitch Henry Stone. I guess he respected me as a good record guy y’ know. Seymour Stein’s a real good record guy too.”
Seymour Stein would be the one on the right
Stein’s signings — as noted in thetext that accompanies his Ahmet Ertegun Award from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fameor his (abandoned)acceptance speech for CBGB’s Icon Award) — reveal a keen ear for talent in contemporary rock and pop: The Flamin’ Groovies, The Saints, The Rezillos, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, Radio Birdman, The Dead Boys, The Undertones, The Pretenders, The Replacements, The Smiths, The Royal Crescent Mob, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, The Cult, Modern English, The English Beat, Madness, KD Lang, Depeche Mode, Aztec Camera, Everything But the Girl, Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., Barenaked Ladies, and Aphex Twin, along with the aforementioned Ramones, Talking Heads, and Madonna. Just as Cincinnati’s King Records helped give birth to 50s rock ‘n’ roll, this same scrappy indie label would then go on to play a significant supporting role in shaping modern ‘indie’ rock.
Not owning my own copy of 18 King Size Rhythm & Blues Hits means having to make do with a lo-res scan of the back cover provided by Discogs — and employing my image viewer’s magnification tool — in order to make out (just barely) Seymour Stein‘soriginal liner notes for the original 1967 Columbia LP [with additional info in brackets + streaming audio for all song titles listed]:
The past twenty-five years have seen rhythm-and-blues music emerge from the twelve-bar blues of the early 1940s to the position it now enjoys as the strongest force in contemporary pop music. One of the main factors in the dynamic growth of rhythm and blues has been the activity of the small, independent record labels in the field. If one were to go back over the past twenty years and check the number of hits and the hit consistency of the recording companies involved in R&B, then the King Record Company of Cincinnati, under its president-founder Sydney Nathan, would head such a list.
In the 20’s and into the 30’s, rhythm-and-blues music was known around the country as either “sepia blues” or “race” music. In New York it was referred to as Harlem’s Hit Parade. “Race” records were produced for consumption in Negro markets in the South and North. They were rural in style and lacked the polish of today’s records. Although many great artists recorded during this era — Lonnie Johnson, Bill Broonzy, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Big Boy Crudup and Peg Leg Howell, for example — almost none of these records reached the pop record buyers.
During the early and middle 1940’s, a number of small independent labels sprang up around the country. Many of these either issued mostly, or exclusively, rhythm-and-blues recordings. However, the term R&B had not yet been coined and therefore was still referred to as “race” music or “sepia blues.”
One of the earliest blues artists, dating back to the early 1920’s, is Lonnie Johnson. He was brought out of retirement to record his biggest hit, “Tomorrow Night.” When the recording was made, Johnson was past seventy.
Sonny Thompson, the great soul organist who was later to achieve fame as a record producer, recorded “Long Gone” , one of the all-time R&B instrumental hits. It is from this melody that the dance the Hucklebuck was derived.
In the early Fifties, vocal groups emerged as the major artists in the R&B field. Among them were the ‘5’ Royales, the Midnighters and the Dominoes, all King artists.
In addition, thanks to Paul Ackerman, music editor of Billboard, the terms “race” music and “sepia blues” were forever replaced by his term “rhythm and blues” [wait — didn’t Jerry Wexler, former Billboard scribe, coin the phrase?].
Billy Ward, a former spiritual singer, formed The Dominoes from among the best talent available in Detroit. Ward wrote and arranged most of their hits. Lead vocalist with the group was Clyde McPhatter, while Jackie Wilson sang bass. Their biggest hit, the controversial “Sixty Minute Man” , was the biggest R&B record recorded up until that time, and sold in excess of two and one half million records. Quite naturally, it was voted the number-one record of 1951. “Sixty Minute Man” was followed by hit after hit, including “Have Mercy Baby” [1952 – with McPhatter], “Do Something For Me” [1950 – also with McPhatter], “The Bells”  and “That’s What You’re Doing to Me” .
One of the ‘5’ Royales‘ big hits on King was “Dedicated to the One I Love” . The tune, written by group members [actually credited to Lowman Pauling and King executive, Ralph Bass], became a big hit years later in versions by the Shirelles and the Mamas and the Papas.
Far and away the most powerful group in rhythm-and-blues history is The Midnighters. Their leader, Hank Ballard, is probably one of the most prolific songwriters ever. Originally, the group was named The Royals, but their name was changed to the Midnighters when King acquired the ‘5‘ Royales. That was done to avoid confusion. As the Royals, the group enjoyed three moderately big hits, “Every Beat of My Heart” , recorded years later by Gladys Knight and the Pips, “Moonrise”  and “Get It” . 1954 was certainly memorable for Ballard and the Midnighters, for it was then that they achieved something unprecedented and probably something never to be matched — one of the biggest records in rhythm and blues that year, “Work With Me Annie.” In 1958 the group recorded a dance tune which did not get much attention until two years later. It was Ballard’s own composition, “The Twist,” which developed into the biggest dance craze of the past twenty-five years. No other artist in the field of rhythm and blues has had as many hits or as many million-selling records as Hank Ballard. Hank’s great hits include “Finger Poppin’ Time” , “Let’s Go Let’s Go Let’s Go” , “Kansas City” , “The Hoochi Coochi Coo” , “Continental Walk” , “Coffee Grind” , “In the Doorway Crying”  and many others.
One of the most interesting King discoveries in the Fifties was Otis Williams and the Charms. The group, all from Cincinnati, were playing softball across the street from the King record factory when Nathan, in need of a group to record a hot tune he had just heard from the West Coast, asked the boys if they would like to audition. From that invitation resulted the million-selling “Hearts of Stone“ . The group followed with hit after hit, including “Ivory Tower“ , “Gum Drop“ , “Ko Ko Mo“ , “Two Hearts“ , “That’s Your Mistake“  and “United“ .
Another great success story is that of Little Willie John, who was discovered at the age of seventeen by Nathan. His first record, “All Around the World“ , was an immediate best seller. “Fever” , one of his subsequent records, sold in excess of one million and was voted by Cash Box magazine the number-one record of 1956. The tune has since been recorded by Peggy Lee and The McCoys.
In the mid 50’s and early 60’s, Joe Tex recorded “Another Woman’s Man.” But it was not until “Hold What You’ve Got” in 1964 [for Dial] that Tex achieved the popularity he deserved.
Otis Redding was discovered by Nathan in Georgia and recorded his first session in King’s studios in Macon, Georgia. One of the sides was “Shout Bamalama.” Like Tex, Redding achieved fame on another label, Volt, with “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Mr. Pitiful,” for example. However, both artists were first discovered and recorded by King Records.
This album commemorates the development of rhythm and blues in the past quarter century. All eighteen selections here are performed by the original artists who made them famous.
* * *
“Another Woman‘s Man” – it bears noting – is from Joe Tex‘s first ever recording session, which took place in New York City forKing Recordsin September, 1955:
“Another Woman’s Man” Joe Tex 1955
Musical personnel (according to Michael Ruppli’s The King Labels: A Discography):
Vocals: Joe Tex Electric Guitar: Mickey Baker Piano: Andy Gibson Tenor Sax: Dave Van Dyke Bass: Unknown Drums: Specs Powell
Bob Mehr‘s well-researchedTrouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacementsprovides some illuminating details about Seymour Stein’s fascinating roller coaster ride in the record business, as detailed here in this passage about the source of Sire’s seed money:
In high school, Stein spent summers in Cincinnati apprenticing under King Records owner Syd Nathan [1957-58], whose biggest star was James Brown. Stein eventually would work for King full-time [1961-63], learning every aspect of the business at the company’s one-stop operation. Back in New York, he became an assistant to record man George Goldner in 1963, then in 1966 broke off with producer-writer Richard Gottehrer. Their label’s moniker scrambled the first two letters of their first names – SE and RI – to get Sire.
Each put up $10,000 in seed money. Stein’s funds had come from Beatlemania’s 1964 height, when Capitol Records in Canada sold a selection of Beatles singles not available in the United States. Stein had spirited a mass of the records out of the country, then offloaded them to US wholesalers, making a small fortune in a week. “The statute of limitations has passed,” said Stein. “But that’s where my share of the money came from.”
Moving on from Billboard to King Records, the Cincinnati-based home of James Brown and other R&B greats, I came in contact with Len Wood, then managing director of EMI, King’s UK licensee. At one meeting, he and Syd Nathan, King’s fiery founder, were heatedly debating King’s attempt to secure an option on all EMI repertoire it it was passed on by Capitol. Nathan did not succeed, but it was not until several years later that I realized how important this option could have been.
When I heard the Beatles’ first Parlophone record, “Love Me Do,” I was not overly impressed. Their follow-up, “Please Please Me,” was one of the most exciting records I had heard during the early part of 1963. I was really surprised, months later, to see the record released on Vee Jay, as I felt certain Capitol would see the potential for America, especially since by that time, “From Me to You” and “She Loves You” had followed it to #1 in Britain.
It was only Vee Jay’s subsequent bankruptcy and EMI’s wisdom in licensing “She Loves You” to Swan Records as a one-off that eventually secured the Beatles for Capitol. But Capitol was to continue passing on acts even after the Beatles breakthrough. They basically released those artists from the Brian Epstein stable like Cilla Black and Peter and Gordon, allowing the Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, the Hollies, and the Animals to go elsewhere. Decca, having virtual control of its American company, saw to it that London released product by the Rolling Stones, Zombies, Moody Blues and the remainder of its roster. Pye, having no U.S. company of their own, would send their releases each week to the various labels they represented. At that time (1964), I was working with George Goldner, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller at Red Bird, and I remembered their scrambling with Warner Brothers for rights to Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”
I had built up a relationship with EMI when I worked for King. EMI distributed King in most territories outside of America – or licensed the music. I met one of the heads of the company, LG Wood. He told me that if I ever needed anything I could always come to him.
The Beatles were turned down twice by Capitol. They would have been gone forever if it hadn’t been for EMI’s American lawyer who was very smart. Vee-Jay had it first and they had it for three or five years.
They put out ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Please Please Me’. And they didn’t pay any royalties. There were very few royalties to pay but they didn’t pay them. When EMI heard ‘She Loves You’, the third record, they said this would be the smash that broke them.
Capitol, believe it or not, turned it down again even though ‘Please Please Me’ had been a hit in England – which ‘Love Me Do’ was not. Their lawyer, a guy called Paul Marshall, was one of the smartest men I ever knew and he told them to let him handle it. He took it away from VJ as they were bad and didn’t pay royalties.
He called up Dick Clark in Philadelphia who owned pieces of labels and had his own label called Swan Records. He said, “I’ll give you this record without an advance and a low royalty – but no follow ups. In exchange, you can break the band.” That’s exactly what happened. Capitol got them back from ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ onwards.
Is it ironic that Syd Nathan’s former intern – rather than Nathan himself – found a way, ultimately, to cash in on the Beatles’ early success (see Seed Money for Sireabove)?
King Records was a good training ground where one could get a thorough, hands-on education in all facets of the recording industry. One of the label’s enduring legacies is the large number of producers, A&R men, and sales or marketing executives who ‘trained’ under Nathan. Among the King alumni who enjoyed successful careers at other labels are Seymour Stein (Sire, Sire-London, and Elektra), Hal Neely (Starday and Starday-King), Henry Glover (Old Town, Roulette, Starday-King), Ralph Bass (Chess), Jim Wilson (Starday and Sun), Alan Leeds (Paisley Park), Ray Pennington (Step One), and nearly a dozen others.
As it turns out, the same year Seymour Stein produced a Guitar Crusher single for “Big Red,” Stein also organized a 12-inch release for Columbia Records (under the “Sire Productions” name) that consistsentirely of country releases from the King Records vault [albeit (groan) “electronically re-channeled for stereo”]. That’s right, 1967 would see the release of a Columbia album (in name only) 18 King Size Country Hits, with extensive liner notes by Stein himself – a former Billboard scribe – that promise the LP to be “one of a projected series of albums, each containing eighteen all-time Country and Western hits spanning the past quarter century.”
Many songs on this LP were million sellers when first issued, according to Stein
This album, sadly, would seem to be the only one released — is it fair to presume Columbia had felt sales to be insufficient enough to warrant future volumes? It’s not for lack of trying though, as Stein very helpfully provides some historical context on the factors that helped King succeed in the marketplace:
Cincinnati, at the period just before America’s entrance into World War II, was the center of activities for many of the great Country and Western artists of that era, in much the same way that Nashville is today. The reason for the Queen City’s dominance over the ‘hillbilly’ world was Midwestern Hayride, the country’s favorite C&W radio show, which was aired weekly from Cincinnati over WLW, key station in the Crosley broadcast chain. Among the show’s stars were the Delmore Brothers, Grandpa Jones, Hank Penny, Wayne Raney, and Homer and Jethro. Lloyd ‘Cowboy’ Copas had a popular Country show also over WKRC in Cincinnati. With the exception of the Delmore Brothers, none of the stars of ‘Midwestern Hayride’ had achieved any amount of success on records. Most had never recorded despite their popularity among the Midwest and South.
King Records In the big leagues = On “Big Red” one year before Nathan’s passing
NEW YORK — Columbia Records will issue two albums of all time best sellers from the catalog of King Records. One package will contain country material and the other rhythm and blues. The deal, considered unusual, was okayed by Bill Gallagher, Columbia Records vice-president, after discussions with Seymour Stein of Sire Productions. Stein, who regards the deal as a tribute to the achievement of Syd Nathan, president of King, produced the packages from masters in the King archives.
Each of the albums contains 18 performances. The country package, titled 18 King Size Country Hits, includes “Signed Sealed and Delivered” by Cowboy Copas, “Blues Stay Away From Me” by the Delmore Brothers, “Mountain Dew” by Grandpa Jones, “Money, Marbles and Chalk” by the writer Pop Eckler, and sides by the Carlisle Brothers, Jimmy Osbourne, Wayne Raney, Moon Mullican, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Reno and Smiley.
Pop Eckler was never a famous recording artist, but as composer of one of the greatest Country ballads, this album would be incomplete without his own rendition of “Money, Marbles and Chalk.” The tune was also a pop hit for Patti Page.
Seymour Stein’s liner notes for 18 King Size Country Hits below
This is one of a projected series of albums, each containing eighteen all-time Country and Western hits spanning the past quarter century. All the tunes, which first appeared on the King Records label under the aegis of Sydney Nathan, its founder and president, are performed by the original singers who made them famous. Many of the recordings were million sellers when they were first issued.
Cincinnati, at the period just before America’s entrance into World War II, was the center of activities for many of the great Country and Western artists of that era, in much the same way that Nashville is today. The reason for the Queen City’s dominance over the “hillbilly” world was Midwestern Hayride, the country’s favorite C&W radio show, which was aired weekly from Cincinnati over WLW, key station in the Crosley broadcast chain. Among the show’s stars were the Delmore Brothers, Grandpa Jones, Hank Penny, Wayne Raney, and Homer and Jethro. Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas had a popular Country show also over WKRC in Cincinnati. With the exception of the Delmore Brothers, none of the stars of the Midwestern Hayride had achieved any amount of success on records. Most had never recorded despite their popularity throughout the Midwest and South.
King’s first artists came from Midwestern Hayride, and one of the first releases, “It’s Raining Here This Morning” by Grandpa Jones , was a substantial hit. He is still a favorite on records, and on the Grand Ole Opry. Another of his greatest hits was [1947‘s] “Mountain Dew.”
The end of World War II brought one of King’s biggest early hits, the original “Rainbow at Midnight” by the Carlisle Brothers , which dealt with the joyous feelings of soldiers after the war.
By 1948, Cowboy Copas had emerged as the leading Country and Western singer in America. His biggest hit was a song written by Sydney Nathan under the pseudonym Lois Mann, “Signed, Sealed and Delivered,”  one of the few million-selling Country discs. Another million seller for him was “Tennessee Waltz” [*first recording of song – April 1947 at King Studios], penned by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart especially for Copas. The tune was recorded years later by Patti Page and has since become the state song of Tennessee. Copas became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1946 and remained with it until his golden voice was forever stilled in 1963.
Also, in the late 1940s a Cajun song sylist and pianist from Houston, Moon Mullican, began recording. He too had his share of gold records: “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”  and “”Sweeter Than the Flowers” , both from Nathan’s pen. The King of the Hillbilly Piano Players, Mullican was forerunner to one of the greatest of all Country artists, Hank Williams, who also sang many Cajun melodies. Late in 1966, Mullican passed away following a long illness.
In 1947, a young singer, Hawkshaw Hawkins, who had been performing on radio station WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia, sent to King Records a “demo” made in a penny arcade for 25¢. So enthused was Nathan by the voice on the record that he immediately summoned the artist to nearby Cincinnati. As it turned out, Hawkins’ initial investment paid more than a million fold. Some of his biggest hits included “Slow Poke” , “Sunny Side of the Mountain” , “Shot Gun Boogie” [live performance + ‘bullwhip act’], “Pan American” , “If I Ever Get Rich Mom”  and “Picking Sweethearts” . In 1962 he recorded “Lonesome 7-7203.” It is unfortunate that the record did not reach the number-one position all across the nation until after Hawkins’ tragic death in 1963 [in the plane crash that also claimed the lives of Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas].
Bonnie Lou, a star since 1951 of Midwestern Hayride, heard the pop version of “Seven Lonely Nights” by Georgia Gibbs in 1953. Nathan immediately rushed Bonnie Lou into the King studios to cut her own enormously successful version of the hit.
The Delmore Brothers, Alton and Rabon, one of the original groups in Country music, date from the late 1920s. As composers they are famed as writers of “Beautiful Brown Eyes,” popularized by Rosemary Clooney. Although they recorded for many labels, their biggest hit, “Blues Stay Away From Me” , was recorded during their term with King [and co-written with Wayne Raney and Henry Glover]. Both brothers recently passed away [actually, Rabon in 1952, Alton in 1964].
Wayne Raney can still be heard over local radio in Cincinnati, playing and singing with his family favorite Country and sacred tunes. He enjoyed many, many hits, including the number-one hit “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me” , also a big pop hit for Rosemary Clooney [backed by Hugo Winterhalter].
Jimmy Osbourne‘s music usually dealt witth morbid, tragic themes. Biggest of these was “Death of Little Kathy Fiscus” , a number-one record in 1949. It told the true story of the death by drowning of a young child, and of the futile attempts to rescue her.
Pop Eckler was never a famous recording artist, but as composer of one of the greatest Country ballads, this album would be incomplete without his own rendition of “Money, Marbles and Chalk” . The tune was also a pop hit for Patti Page.
At present, two big Country and Western acts are the Stanley Brothers (Ralph and Carter) and the team of Don Reno and Red Smiley, both of which are extremely popular both in the Country and folk-bluegrass fields. One of the Stanleys’ biggest hits is “How Far to Little Rock” . Carter Stanley passed away in 1966. Reno and Smiley are represented by their first and biggest hit, “I’m the Talk of the Town” .
Although every selection in the album has been a Top Ten hit, they comprise more than just a collection to past successes. They are an intrinsic part of the history and development of America’s Country and Western music.