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
Cash Box‘s April 19, 1958 review acknowledged the structural similarities, though not in a bad way necessarily:
Pate sets his flute to a “Tequila”-like backdrop and hands in an exciting side. At mid point a voice belts out the word “Muskeeta.” Good mambo rock ‘n roll.
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.
A song title (“Ticklish Ghetto”) from my big tribute to pioneering producer, Sonia Pottinger, inspired me to identify all other popular songs in which “ticklish” is part of the title.
“Ticklish Mambo” – surprisingly or not – is one of the few 45 releases with a ticklish title:
“Ticklish Mambo” René Touzet 1957
“Ticklish Mambo” served as the B-side to “Manhattan” – released March, 1957 on GNP.
Cuban-born bandleader, René Touzet, moved to the United States in 1944 after a hurricane destroyed his Havana club. Touzet worked with Desi Arnaz, Xavier Cugat & Stan Kenton (famed for his ‘Wall of Sound‘) before leading his own orchestra beginning in the mid-50s. Touzet’s would record ten albums for GNP, with 1956’s “El Loco Cha Cha Cha” – the song that inspired Richard Berry to write “Louie Louie” – a career highlight.
Joe Goldmark is not only a musician but also a scholar, whose International Steel Guitar and Dobro Discography – “a resource book that attempts to list every steel guitar and Dobro instrumental ever recorded” – is a fascinating reference tool for those interested in Syd Nathan’s King Records legacy.
Jerry Byrd – one-time steel guitarist for Hank Williams – recorded four songs at Cincinnati’s King Records studio on October 29, 1954 as part of The Country Cats (with Al Myers on guitar). “Mountain Mambo,” is the A-side of a King 45 that playfully incorporates Latin elements within a hillbilly jazz framework:
“Mountain Mambo” The Country Cats (featuring Jerry Byrd) 1954
Audio clip includes excellent B-side, “Hot Strings.”
Thanks to The Jerry Byrd Fan Club website, I now know that “during the 1950s, Jerry Byrd upgraded to a seven-string, pre-war model of the same Rickenbacker Bakelite steel guitar (as pictured below). He was playing this fine instrument while on WLW radio in Cincinnati, Ohio, and recorded his popular Decca album, Hi-Fi Guitar, using this guitar.”
Steel Guitarists – and the Music Historians Who Love Them
Listed below are the other King/Federal/Deluxe/Audio Lab recordings referenced in The International Steel Guitar & Dobro Discography, with the names of the featured steel guitarists – where known and/or applicable – indicated in parentheses:
New!Streaming audio for many of the recordings below: