Fun Facts & Trivia —
Top Tweets from King Records Month 2018
As with the previous piece (“King’s Jazz Legacy“), it seems silly to keep all this rich history from last year’s King 75th Anniversary tucked away in a file attachment. One year later, it has become increasingly obvious that this “once-tweeted” information would serve humanity to a much greater degree if likewise liberated and laid out clearly, without concern for limits on text or number of illustrations. These original tweets have been richly supplemented for this updated version.
Modernist pavilion –
Cincinnati’s Bellevue Park overlooking downtown
[Note: streaming audio links indicated in bold blue ink]
King History Tweet #1
Roots of “Claw Picking“
Mose Rager – who, along with Ike Everly (father of Phil & Don), taught Merle Travis the “claw picking” technique – played on a King recording session for Fairley Holden. According to Dave Sax’s liner notes for Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie —
Fairley’s new version [of “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Of Me“] for King (his third) sold well enough to warrant three more sessions during the year, including 12 songs cut in December  before the [1948 recording] ban. He was backed by Moon Mullican (with whom he also toured in Detroit) at his first two sessions, while Mose Rager and another guitarist are heard at the December date. This and a session with Curly Fox & Texas Ruby, also for King, give us the only example of Rager’s work on record [emphasis mine].
Check out the instrumental intro from “Sweet Mama, Put Him in Low,” a song from Holden’s last session for King — those guitar lines must belong to Rager, right? That same recording session also includes “You’ve Been a Bad Bad Little Girl“; “Oh, That Naggin’ Wife of Mine“; “It’ll Make a Change in Business” (guitar solo at 1:11); “Put Some Meat on Them Bones“; “Don’t Monkey Around With My Widder When I’m Gone” & “Long Long Dresses,” with the guitar work on these tracks bearing that classic “Travis-style” picking technique which came directly from Rager and Ike Everly. By the way, thanks to PragueFrank for pointing out that Holden’s first session for King took place in February, 1947 at E.T. Herzog Recording Studio in Cincinnati.
With regard to Curly Fox and Texas Ruby, since they did two recording sessions for King (as indicated by Ruppli), I am unclear as to which of the 17 tracks feature Rager’s playing, since he only played on “a” recording session, as Sax states above. However, if I were to be so bold, I suspect that Rager’s guitar work can be heard on the second King recording session that yielded “You Don’t Love Me” and four other songs — check out the “Travis-style” guitar break at the 1:48 mark. If I’m correct, that means Rager can also be heard (at least, theoretically) on “Those Dreams Are Gone” (solo guitar at the 0:50 mark); “On the Banks of the Lonely River“; “Falling Leaf” & “You’ll Remember and Be Blue.” That last track, by the way, only issued on Nashville Bandstand Vol. 2, the same album that includes (as previously noted) Merle Travis’s lone King recording as a solo artist, “What Will I Do” (likewise unavailable on YouTube, unfortunately). Album also includes Moon Mullican’s “Too Many Irons in the Fire” (also not on YouTube) — song co-written by Henry Glover, Erwin King, “Lois Mann” [Syd Nathan] & Mullican.
Volume 1 sold at auction for $26 in 2012
King History Tweet #2
Roy Lanham on King
Southwest Shuffle, Rich Kienzle‘s history of honky tonk, western swing, and country jazz pioneers, has a chapter about guitar great Roy Lanham (“Neither Fish Nor Fowl”), whose title pinpoints the musician’s unfortunate predicament, in that he was considered “too country for jazz” and “too jazz for country”! Lanham (celebrated here previously) can be heard on Hank Penny‘s very first session for King in 1944 (recorded in a room above the Wurlitzer Music Store in Cincinnati) — four songs, including “Last Night“; “Tear Stains on Your Letter” & “Hope You’re Satisfied” (with Louis Innis on second guitar).
Lanham’s most famous session work for King in the label’s early years can be heard on such Delmore Brothers 78 sides as “Goin’ Back to the Blue Ridge Mountains“; “Boogie Woogie Baby“; “Freight Train Boogie” & “Shame on Me” — recorded at E.T. Herzog’s Studio in October, 1946 with Homer & Jethro. One year later, Lanham would join forces with Merle Travis at Cincinnati’s King Studios to record eight songs, including “The Frozen Girl“; “Long Journey Home” & “You Can’t Do Wrong and Get By.” October of 1949 would find Lanham recording his swansong with the Delmore Brothers “Trouble Ain’t Nothing But the Blues,” with Syd Nathan in the producer’s chair.
This 1958 LP sold for $300 in 2012
King History Tweet #3
Western Swing on King
Noted western swing bandleader Spade Cooley cut sessions for King Records “under vocalist Red Egner‘s name” according to Kevin Coffey’s liner notes in CD compilation Shuffle Town – Western Swing on King. Total of 8 songs recorded in late 1946 at Radio Recorders in Los Angeles and released as four 78s, [plus 2 unreleased tracks “You Didn’t Want Me (When You Had Me)” & “South of Old San Antone”] — most notably “You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs Dry” and “Swing Billy A-La-Mode” (group billed as ‘The California Cutups‘), with Noel Boggs, in all likelihood (inferring from PragueFrank’s session info) on steel guitar.
Noel Boggs, correct?
King History Tweet #4
Western Swing on DeLuxe
(Pre-pedal) steel guitar legend Noel Boggs played on King sessions for both Hank Penny [1945 session in Pasadena, California with Merle Travis that yielded 12 songs including “Steel Guitar Stomp“; “Merle’s Buck Dance” & “I’m Counting the Days“] and Jimmie Widener (whose all-star band would include Jimmy Wyble, who later starred with jazz greats Benny Goodman and Red Norvo) on such tracks as “You Better Wake Up Babe.” Recorded at Hollywood’s Universal Recorders on September 21, 1946. [SOURCE: Shuffle Town – Western Swing on King 1946-1950].
King Steel Guitar Trivia
King History Tweet #5
More Steel Guitar Trivia
Jimmie Widener’s “What a Line!” – produced/co-written by Merle Travis and released by King Records in 1946 – features stellar steel guitar work by Earl ‘Joaquin’ Murphey. According to the liner notes from Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie:
Jimmie Widener was born in Oklahoma in 1924, and his career included stints with the Spade Cooley, Bob Wills and Tex Williams bands – and also the 24 sides he recorded for King. “What a Line!” was from his first session held at Universal Recorders, Hollywood on 25 March 1946 during the sessions that Merle Travis produced. The song enjoyed a new lease of life in near rockabilly format when recorded by Carl Story for Columbia in 1955. The all-star personnel featured Jimmie Widener (guitar), Shelby ‘Tex‘ Atchison (fiddle), Harold Hensley (fiddle), Joaquin Murphey (steel guitar), Charlie Morgan (guitar), George Bamby (accordion), Vic Davis (piano), and Shug Fisher (bass).
Kevin Coffey notes that “Widener had recently been playing tenor banjo with [Bob Wills backing band] the Texas Playboys and had sung ‘How Can It Be Wrong’ with Wills at a recording session less than two weeks before these September 18-23  King [Hollywood] sessions began” in the liner notes to the Shuffle Town King western swing anthology. With regard to those September, 1946 sessions at Universal Recorders —
Syd and his King Records hit Hollywood with all the force of an earthquake,” journalist C. Phil Henderson enthused soon after in his Tophand magazine – and over the next month, at Hollywood’s Universal Recorders, Nathan waxed a hundred-plus sides on Widener, Penny, Red Egner, Tex Atchison and others.
King History Tweet #6
(Still) More Steel Guitar Trivia
Paul Howard and His Arkansas Cotton Pickers recorded their first session for King in Cincinnati on January, 26, 1949 with Bob Wills alumnus Billy Bowman on steel guitar (plus Red Perkins on vocals, Jabbo Arrington on guitar, two fiddlers in Red Harper and “Julliard-trained” Roddy Bristol, and pianist Harold Horner). This session also marked the recording debut (so says Kevin Coffey) of A-team Nashville session bassist, Bob Moore, father of R. Stevie Moore (“Godfather of Home Recording“) – four songs including “Texas Boogie” and “Torn Between True Love and Desire.”
Scratchy 78s –
Audio above not pristine
King History Tweet #7
Queen, King’s short-lived subsidiary (1945-1947) devoted to black artists, featured mostly rhythm and blues recordings but also included a fair amount of gospel music, primarily Wings Over Jordan. This 10-inch EP from 1946, with three songs per side, appears to be the only non-78 release on the Queen label — includes “Old Ship of Zion“; “When You Come Out of the Wilderness“; “Take Me to the Water“; & “Deep River.”
King History Tweet #8
Big Maybelle on King
Mabel Smith, a.k.a., Big Maybelle, with backing support from Hot Lips Page and His Orchestra, did three recording sessions for King in late 1947, with at least two of them taking place at Cincinnati’s King Studios. Three King 78s would be the net result: (a) “Sad and Disappointed Jill” b/w “Bad Dream Blues“; (b) “Indian Giver” b/w “Too Tight Mama“; (c) “Little Miss Muffet” b/w “Don’t Try to Fool Me.” This French compilation from 2004 includes all of her King 78 sides, plus two unissued tracks: “Foolin’ Blues” and “Dirty Deal Blues.”
8 sides in all for King
King History Tweet #9
King artists “Zebb” Turner and “Cow Boy” Copas enjoyed a split EP release in Denmark on the Vogue label in the early 1950s that includes Turner’s 1951 breakout hit “Chew Tobacco Rag” and Copas’s 1947 version of “Tennessee Waltz.” Copas, in fact, had tried to buy “Tennessee Waltz” on a song-scouting expedition for Syd Nathan in a classic capitalist tale recounted by music historian Darren Blase (of Shake It Records) for his excellent piece “The Lonesome Ballad of Cowboy Copas” published in Cincinnati Magazine‘s August 1, 2013 edition.
That’s Zeb with two B’s – Danish EP
King History Tweet #10
Hillbilly Bop on Federal
Federal – the King subsidiary label established for Ralph Bass to produce R & B artists – nevertheless had a Federal Hillbilly Series. According to the liner notes in Ace UK’s King Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie, “only two hillbilly artists actually recorded new sessions specifically earmarked for Federal.” One of those artists, Tommy Scott, recorded the hobo train classic “Rockin’ and Rollin’” at Cincinnati’s King Studios on January 4, 1951 with a backing band that included Hank Williams‘ one-time steel guitarist Jerry Byrd and (future Nashville session fiddler emeritus) Tommy Jackson — who both backed Williams on “Lovesick Blues” (recorded at Herzog Studios in 1948), along with Louis Innis and Zeke Turner.
King History Tweet #11
Train Songs on King
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a good train song, and one of the best collections I’ve heard is an anthology of mostly obscure 45s called Choo Choo Bop (issued by German label, Buffalo Bop). The tenth track – Larry Harvey‘s “Rolling Home” – is one of my faves, and happens to be a King classic from 1957 that will have you singing the refrain in no time. The person who posted this YouTube clip points out that “Rolling Home” is an update of “Fast Moving Night Train” (written by Rudy Toombs, sung by Grandpa Jones) that unfortunately is not available on YouTube.
“Rolling Home” by Larry Harvey (1957)
According to Discogs:
Larry Harvey was a Canadian country singer originally from Newfoundland. Moved to Toronto where he saw some success and then later to Nashville. He was one of the inaugural members of the Country Music Association in 1956. After a dispute with his record company King Records over Newfoundland distribution he left his contract. He was unable to keep food on his family’s table, so he returned to Ontario and worked in a factory, then later started a small business. Subject of the 2008 documentary “Paper Promises” by his son Shane Harvey.
In addition to the obvious (e.g., Tiny Bradshaw’s “Train Kept a Rollin’“), here are four other King train songs worth investigating:
- “Hi-Ballin’ Daddy” – Ann Jones penned this original and recorded it at King Studios on March 2, 1951. Billboard‘s June 30, 1951 edition sang its praises:
String band and rhythm section set up a strong beat and keep it driving right thru as the Jones gal hands the tune a growling chant.
King “bio disc”
- “Chic a Choo Freight” – written by Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by Bob Newman at Cincinnati’s King Studios on March 2, 1952. Billboard offered up this “Folk Record Review” in its July 19, 1952 edition:
Clever story novelty about an engineer with a slow freight train receives a lively performance by Newman. Tune is melodic with a boogie beat. Could grab loot. A good kiddie disc, too.
Penned by Boudleaux Bryant –
Co-author of many Everly Brothers hits
[Bob Newman, it must be said, also recorded the truck-driving classic “Hauling Freight” (from the pen of Henry Glover), as celebrated in Zero to 180’s piece from 2016.]
- “Freight Train Boogie” + “East Bound Freight Train” by Reno & Smiley and the Tennessee Cutups– both recorded October 26, 1959 at King Studios but given separate 45 releases. Billboard‘s February 8, 1960 edition would express solid support for the former, “Pleasant blend work by pair on solid country item with standout guitar solo work,” while its July 11, 1960 edition would characterize the latter track thusly, “Traditional country in performance, this side also has a song reflecting the train tradition. Chanting has the hills sound.”
King EP – 1961
- Zero to 180 justifiably received flak for not originally including Tiny Bradshaw‘s “Train Kept A-Rollin’” — the very first song played at the first ever jam session by the four (future) members of Led Zeppelin (at which point, “the whole room just exploded” = see fuller story near the bottom).
King EP – 1953
King History Tweet #12
Billboard‘s May 3, 1952 edition reported that a Shenandoah, Iowa disk jockey held a contest, asking listeners to guess the names of King recording artists, The Harlan County Four, who had just released their version of “The Atomic Telephone” — a gospel song co-written by Henry Glover, Syd Nathan & Eddie Smith. Raise your hand if you know the secret identities behind the Harlan County Four — answer is in this Zero to 180 piece.
Co-written by Eddie Smith –
Artist/arranger, and later, chief engineer at King
King History Tweet #13
Boogie & Blues on King
Famed folk duo Sonny Terry (harmonica) and Brownie McGhee (guitar) played on a single recording session for King in support of singer and Piedmont country blues guitarist, Ralph Willis, with Gary Mapp on bass. Four sides — that was recorded in NYC on January 14, 1953, almost certainly under Henry Glover’s supervision. , including “Gonna Hop On Down the Line“; “Do Right” & “Door Bell Blues.”
King History Tweet #14
Continental Pop on King
Petula Clark on King Records? It’s true! Clark’s 1954 UK hit “The Little Shoemaker” was issued that same year in the US and Canada on King. 10 years before Clark would win the 1964 Grammy for Best Rock & Roll Recording (over “A Hard Day’s Night”). Billboard‘s review in their July 17, 1954 edition:
“King 1371 – If this side had come out some weeks ago it could easily have pulled a good part of the action on the tune. Petula Clark warbles the opus with a smile in her voice and she’s backed wonderfully by the large ork. Disk, an English import, could still garner loot if exploited.”
King History Tweet #15
Rudy Ray Moore’s Earliest Recordings
Rudy (pre-Dolemite) Moore first recorded for King in December of 1955, a session that yielded four songs: “The Buggy Ride“; “Ring a-Ling Dong“; “I’m Mad With You“; and “My Little Angel.” Moore’s second and final King recording session – June 1, 1956 – netted four more tracks: “Let Me Come Home“; “I’ll Be Home to See You Tomorrow“; and “Robbie Dobbie.”
Four Federal 45s in all
Eddie Murphy as “Dolemite” holding a doctored “Rudy Ray Moore” Federal 45!
King History Tweet #16
Chet Atkins on a King Rockabilly
Mr. Nashville Sound himself, Chet Atkins, played bass on Fuller Todd’s “Proud Lady” – according to Rob Finnis in his liner notes to Ace UK’s King Rockabilly – when session bassist, Bob Moore, had not yet arrived at RCA Nashville, where the song (co-written by Louis Innis) was recorded on March 25, 1957.
King History Tweet #17
Dave ‘Baby‘ Cortez = King Session Player
Keyboardist Dave ‘Baby‘ Cortez — who would later have instrumental hits with “The Happy Organ” (1959) and “Rinky Dink” (1962) — played on two King recording sessions:
- Bubber Johnson session in New York City on October 16, 1957, with a support band that featured legendary saxman, King Curtis, as well as Gene Redd on vibraphone and noted harpist, Ruth Berman. Four songs, including “The Whisperers” and “Muddy Water.”
Wha’da ya know?
Co-written by Henry Glover
- Titus Turner session in New York City on March 28, 1958 produced by Henry Glover, with solid backing from Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson on tenor saxophone, Bill Jennings on guitar, and noted session drummer, Panama Francis. Five songs captured on tape, including “Way Down Yonder” and “Coralee.”
Flip side co-authored by Henry Glover & Rudy Toombs
King History Tweet #18
More King Rockabilly
King Records would issue over a dozen Trini Lopez single releases beginning in 1958 and ending into 1966, though none would chart, sadly. Check out this classic slice of rockabilly bop “Yes You Do” — Lopez’s debut single for King — that was recorded December, 1958 in Dallas.
Australian 45 (“A King recording from U.S.A.”) – 1964
King History Tweet #19
King R&B Instrumentals
Cliff Davis & The Turbo Jets recorded four songs in Chicago for King subsidiary label Federal in 1958 – including “So Sassy” and “Far East Cha Cha Cha” – and then four more on May 22, 1959: “Let It Roll (Pts. 1 & 2)” “Rock and Reel” and “Back Mountain Rock.” Saxophonist, as well as songwriter and arranger, Davis would record one single for Okeh after leaving King.
German 45 – 1962
King History Tweet #20
“Cat” Music on King
Bruce Channel (whose harmonica player, Delbert McClinton, gave John Lennon a few tips on the instrument back in 1962 when The Beatles opened for Channel) recorded exactly four songs for King in a single 1959 Forth Worth, TX recording session that yielded two 45s. Of the four sides reviewed by Billboard, “Boy! This Stuff Kills Me” would get the most enthusiastic ink:
“Cat digs music, as he intros drums, twangy guitars and honking tenor. He shouts the tale over a driving ork and combo assist.”
That combo assist, by the way, would be Marvin Montgomery and His Orchestra — this track also available on Ace UK compilation, King Rock ‘n’ Roll.
King History Tweet #21
Geopolitical Commentary on King
One recording that remains unheard in the King vaults is Buck Floyd‘s “The U-2 Flight” – recorded in Cincinnati on October 17, 1960 in response to the major international incident that had taken place five months earlier on May 1st. There are no images of Floyd’s lone King 45 [“I’m Gonna Show You All Someday” b/w “No Love for Me“] on the web. The attached photo is of Ernest Burgess “Buck” Floyd of Carrollton, Kentucky (in Carroll County), born April 1, 1933. Could this Korean War veteran be the same Buck Floyd, who once recorded at the King Studios? Buck Floyd’s King 45 — recorded with Kenny Sowder & the Grand River Boys — was reviewed in Billboard‘s Jan 9, 1961 issue [B-side: “Heartfelt vocalizing by Floyd on moving weeper”] and rated “three stars” (i.e., “good sales potential”). Obituary for Ernest ‘Buck’ Floyd.
Ernest ‘Buck’ Floyd –
King recording artist?
King History Tweet #22
If you need sanctified sounds for your Sunday morning, consider giving this 1960 King album by the Bible Way Church of God — Let the Church Roll On — a spin. Billboard‘s review from the Dec 26, 1960 edition:
These spirituals have been recorded during church service by the Bible Way Church of God Choir in Cincinnati. Performances are impassioned and capture the true gospel spirit.
More Continental Pop on King
Besides Petula Clark, King served as US distributor for other leased EMI recordings, such as 1961’s “spy” guitar number with a “popcorn” beat “The Swinging Gypsies” by Tony Osbourne, selected by Billboard as a Special Merit Single for the week of Oct. 23, 1961. Says the reviewer —
“A listenable instrumental featuring a hoked up piano sound against a big ork backing. The side is set in a breezy rock tempo. Could win spins.”
Classic early 60s UK guitar instrumental
That same year, King would also lease “Black Stockings” b/w “Get Lost Jack Frost” by The John Barry Seven from EMI, both crisp guitar instrumentals — sadly, no visual evidence of this King 45 exists on the web (link to 45Cat catalog record).
King History Tweet #24
Reno & Smiley recorded a sarcastic slice of rockabilly (or is it mockabilly?) in King’s Cincinnati studios on April 24, 1961 — “Just Doing Rock and Roll” — under the fake name Chick and His Hot Rods. Billboard‘s September 11, 1961 edition rated this single release three stars (i.e., “moderate sales potential”).
Rock ‘n’ roll gets punk’d
King History Tweet #25
Honky Tonk on King
Ray Bell was part of an elite group of artists that helped revive King’s Queen subsidiary label between the years 1961-1962. 45Cat contributor formula (-CH2-CHI)n would post this concise appraisal of Bell’s lone 45 release “Blues Tavern” b/w “Loveless Island“:
Nice country honky tonk sound with fiddle from ’61.
King History Tweet #26
More Honky Tonk on King
In 1961, Audio Lab gathered up Rocky Bill Ford‘s sudsy lament of a most tuneful sort — “Beer Drinking Blues” (originally released 1950 on Gilt-Edge, a label distributed by King) — along with eleven other songs for an LP that you would be hard pressed to find today. Ford’s composition would get a nice makeover in 1969 by Eddie Noack, thanks to some driving piano and soulful dobro lines — link to Noack’s version of “Beer Drinking Blues.”
Rare album on Audio Lab, King’s “budget” subsidiary label
King History Tweet #27
Early 60s R&B on King
Columbus, Ohio’s King Pharoah & the Egyptians (who would dress the part in live performance) recorded a single session for Federal Records in March, 1961 that yielded the 45 “Shimmy Sham” b/w “By the Candle Lite.” Billboard‘s Apr 17, 1961 edition rated the 45 as having “moderate sales potential” and included this review:
A-side: “This is about the women in the tropic land who look so grand. It’s a slow persistent rocker by the boys in solid bluesy r&b fashion. Good sound & catchy beat.”
B-side: “A slow, slow rockaballad done for fair results by the boys.”
King History Tweet #28
Truck Driving Songs
Compare/contrast (1) Coleman Wilson’s original acoustic version of classic truck driving tale “Radar Blues” with (2) Swanee Caldwell’s full-band version recorded in Cincinnati on July 15, 1963.
Coleman Wilson’s A-side “Passing Zone Blues” peaked at #23 in Billboard‘s Country chart the week of Aug. 23, 1961. Amusing to scan all the 45 releases of Dave Dudley, one of the “kings” of truck driving songs, and notice that King would reach into their back catalog and reissue in August of 1963 one of Dudley’s King rockabilly 45s in the wake of “Six Days on the Road” – the runaway hit released in April of that year.
Truck-driving country classic
King History Tweet #29
Obscure Instrumental Awaiting Rediscovery
“Double Whammy” by The Whammies – a driving sax and organ instrumental guaranteed to fill the dance floor – is actually the B-side of the group’s one and only 45. The one YouTube audio clip for this song has only 545 “views” as of October 16, 2018 [one year later, that total has nudged up to 599 plays] — be the first on your block to hear this winner of a track! The A-side “Walk Walk” was written by one of the West Coast’s in-demand session guitarists — René Hall (of “Twitchy” fame) — whose first King recording session (for Wynonie Harris) goes all the way back to Dec. 17, 1947 (“Your Money Don’t Mean a Thing” – with Dexter Gordon). Hall’s guitar can be heard on a number of hits recorded in Los Angeles, including “La Bamba” (electric baritone guitar), and his arrangements include Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Going to Come.”
Both sides “leased” – c. June, 1962
King History Tweet #30
Sonny Thompson, who co-wrote “Had You Told It Like It Was (It Wouldn’t Be Like It Is)” for Albert King, laid down some “popcorn jazz” on August 14, 1962 at King’s Cincinnati studio on a pair of tracks that were released as a Bethlehem 45: “Loco Limbo” b/w “Just a Little Bit of Soul.” Thompson is part of an ‘elite’ group that had a special publishing arrangement with Syd Nathan. 45Cat contributor “mickey rat” explains:
“For years I’ve wondered who was involved in Boblo Music. I’ve always had it listed with that clutch of half a dozen imprints that Syd Nathan of King Records shared with his favourite producers (e.g. Men-Lo = Fred Mendelsohn & Syd Nathan and Son-Lo = Sonny Thompson & Syd Nathan, where the “Lo” bit was short for Nathan’s flagship publishing imprint Lois Music).”
Longer quote can be found in Zero to 180 piece – “Bethlehem Records: Post-Syd”
King History Tweet #31
Blues on King
Blues guitar legend Albert King did, in fact, set foot inside King’s Cincinnati studio on April 17, 1963, with two songs recorded at that session: “This Funny Feeling” (sadly, as it says on the 45 label: a “vocal with band and vocal group” that features a sax [!] solo) and “Had You Told It Like It Was (It Wouldn’t Be Like It Is),” another vocal sans guitar. Both songs are included on 1963 King LP, The Big Blues.
Fortunately, this King album does feature King’s distinctive guitar playing
King History Tweet #32
King Kiddie Pop!
Whip out “The Bunny Hop” by The Delteens – recorded at King on March 12, 1963 – at your next preschool party or Kindergarten playdate. “The Bunny Hop” (the B-side) merited three stars in Billboard‘s March 30, 1963 edition, while the Delteens take on that kiddie standard “The Hokey Pokey” earned the group an additional star!
King History Tweet #33
Country Meets the Blues
Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock had recorded for almighty Columbia Records, prior to a short tenure with King Records that yielded three 45 releases – all in the year 1964 – from a single 12-song recording session at the Cincinnati studios on June 15, 1964, including “My Baby’s Got Flat Feet.” Important to note that two of Craddock’s three A-sides were written by Henry Glover (just for fun: scroll these 19 pages of search results on 45Cat to see how many 45 sides were written, produced and/or arranged by Glover). The other six tracks would be rounded up for Craddock’s lone King LP – which includes “Talk to Me Talk to Me” (a Little Willie John 45 on King, originally) and the album’s title track “I’m Tore Up” (1956 Federal single written by Ike Turner and Ralph Bass).
Penned by Henry Glover –
with assistance from “Lois Mann”
King History Tweet #34:
The Cincinnati-Kingston Connection
One year following Prince Buster‘s rocksteady salute to “The Cincinnati Kid” (a.k.a., James Brown), King Records – ironically, perhaps – licensed a song from Prince Buster himself [“Ten Commandments (From Woman to Man)”] for release in the United States in 1967, with a Byron Lee track [“Papa Jack“] on the flip side. 45Cat notes, “Different vocal to the track released on RCA Victor 47-9114.” Zero to 180’s related piece from 2014.
“Buster and East Productions“
King History Tweet #35
Late 60s Soul
Keyboardist/arranger/studio musician, Richard Tee, arranged one recording session in New York City on April Fool’s Day, 1969, for soul vocal group, The Manhattans, who ended up releasing two albums on (revived) King subsidiary, DeLuxe, before joining forces with “Big Red” – Columbia Records. Four songs recorded and released on two DeLuxe 45s — “The Picture Becomes Quite Clear” b/w “Oh Lord, I Wish I Could Sleep” -and- “Gonna Take a Lot to Bring Me Back” b/w “Give Him Up.”
King History Tweet #36:
Final Recording Session for Bethlehem?
Remember The Saloonatics from the Zero to 180 piece that questioned whether this was one of the last original sessions at Cincinnati’s King Studios for the Bethlehem subsidiary label? Azie Mortimer‘s 1971 album, Feeling of Jazz, was actually one of the last 1969 recording sessions for Bethlehem listed in Ruppli’s King Records sessionography, with musician credits that include such notable jazz musicians as Jerome Richardson, Milt Hinton, Snooky Young, Jimmy Cleveland, Quentin Jackson, Phil Woods, Les Spann, Willie Rodriguez, and Mercer Ellington (arranger & conductor). In 2014, the album was issued on CD (in Japan) for the first time. Mortimer’s earlier singles are available on YouTube, but no streaming audio yet from this Bethlehem LP.
King History Tweet #37:
Last of the Licensing?
Two long-playing recordings were licensed from EMI in 1972. These two albums, King LPs 1140 and 1141, belong to the same artist: Manuel (“pseudonym for Geoff Love‘s easy listening Latin themed recordings”) And His Music of the Mountains. One of the albums, Manuel and the Music of the Movies, enjoyed a US release, while the other King LP, Cascade, appears to have been issued in the UK only — is that really true?
Hard to believe this is a King release –
Logo in upper left corner
King History Tweet #38
Boogaloo & Latin Sounds on King
1973’s On Broadway album by The Coasters kicks off with the original “pre-Monkees” version of “D.W. Washburn” that was recorded “a few months before” the mop tops’ 1968 single though not released until after, so says Both Sides Now Publications [The Coasters’ version was recorded on Halloween 1967, according to this Wikipedia page]. Album also includes hotly reworked versions of “Love Potion Number 9” and “Cool Jerk” in a Latin boogaloo vein, plus newer compositions, such as “Soul Pad“; “Talkin’ About a Woman” & “Everybody’s Woman.” Half the songs on the album are written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who were co-owners of Starday-King at that time (but not for much longer, sadly).
1973 LP cover –
Part of the “new social awareness”
King History Tweet #39:
Final King & Federal 45s
With respect to the question of what was the final King 45, I thought it might be great sad fun to simply list all the King single releases from 1973 in order by catalog number. Note that some catalog numbers are missing in the sequence below (e.g., 45-6411) — hoping that music scholars and vinyl collectors find any and all remaining King 45 releases from 1973 not represented in this list:
Allison "Love Grow Cold" + "Born to Be a Lover" 45-6406 Patterson Twins "Ever Got You Back" + "Got Some Problems" 45-6407 Earl Gaines "Pillow Stays Wet" + "Don't Deceive Me" 45-6408 Willy Wiley "Push and Shove" + "Just Be Glad" 45-6409 Rufus Watkins "Wake Me Shake Me (No Sleep) Pts. 1 & 2" 45-6410 Sylvester Boyd "Don't Want Nobody" + "Can't Go On Livin'" 45-6412 Eddie James "Been Down So Long" + "Livin' w/o You" 45-6413 Fireside Singers "Live By His Word" + "Run On" 45-6417 Kastle "Gettin' Down (w/ Hoss)" + "Why Don't You" 45-6418 Charles Brown "For Good Times" + "Lonesome & Driftin'" 45-6420 Our Bro's Keeper "The Harlem Clown" + "Gonna Keep You Warm" 45-6421 Patterson Twins "Back in Love Again" + "Come to Me" 45-6422
B-side of final King 45 –
(prior to the label’s sale in 1973)?
Similarly, I thought we could take masochistic pleasure in listing all the Federal 7-inch releases from 1971-1973 in order by catalog number to determine which was the final release, prior to the sale of Starday-King to Moe Lytle and Gusto Records in 1973 (Gusto, it has been said, “is believed to maintain one of the largest independently owned collection of record masters”). As with the list above, I spy a couple missing catalog numbers (#12564 & #12565) — are there any 45 releases from these final years unaccounted for?
Mickey Murray "People Are Together" + "Fat Girl" 45-12560 James Duncan "Please Johnny" + "Stand Up & Get Funky" 45-12561 Clarence Murray "Please Accept My Love" + "Book of Love" 45-12562 Bobby Leeds "No Sign of Love" + "Yesterday's Rain" 45-12563 Gloria Walker "Papa's Got the Wagon" + "Precious Love" 45-12566 Thomas Bailey "Wish I Was Back" + "Percy's Place" 45-12567 Stratoliners "What Do You Want w/ Love" + "Your Love" 45-12568 Gloria Walker "Love Is In the Air" + "Them Changes" 45-12569 Gloria Walker "When My Baby Cries" + "Gift of Love" 45-12570 Mickey Murray "Can't Tell You" + "Nothing We Can Do" 45-12571 James K-Nine "Counting Tear Drops" + "Live It Up" 45-12572 Toby King "Mr. Tuff Stuff" + "For the Good Times" 45-12573
Final Federal 45 (we think) =
Toby King Clavinet funk from 1973
Note: Zero to 180 piece from last November attempts to identify the last DeLuxe 45.
King History Tweet #40:
King Funk & Soul
Fans of James Brown funk will want to track down a series of five LPs – Nothing But Funk, all (but one) JB productions – with each volume distinct and thoughtfully selected. Zero to 180 has been cautioned, however, about the accuracy of the extensive musician credits for each and every track. Please be advised:
Volume One = “12 JB Produced Funk Instrumentals 1967-1977“
Volume Two = “11 Selections of Rare JB Funkiness From 1967-1977“
Volume Three = “11 Selections of James Brown Rarities From 1963-1973“
Volume Four = “11 James Brown Produced Rarities From 1963-1975“
Volume Five = “10 JB Produced Funky Selections From 1965 to 1976“
Bootsy & Catfish Collins + Robert ‘Chicken’ Gunnels & Robert ‘Chopper’ McCollough
Nothing But Funk – Volume One
1968 King LP Nothing But Soul
France – Nothing But Soul LP
Germany – Nothing But Soul LP
Artist Profile in Miniature
Texas blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter Roy Gaines – a contemporary of Johnny Copeland with whom he was acquainted – had backed his hero T-Bone Walker by the time he was 14. After moving to Los Angeles, Gaines served as a backing musician on recordings for Bobby Bland, Junior Parker and Big Mama Thornton in 1955. In the 1960s, he played guitar on sessions for the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Darin & Gladys Knight. Gaines would finally release his first solo album in 1982, Gainelining. Three years later, Gaines played one of the jook joint musicians in the film, The Color Purple (link to musician credits on the soundtrack album), 2009’s big band album Tuxedo Blues would include “Miss Celie’s Blues” which Gaines had performed in The Color Purple.
“Mr. Guitar” (as he was billed in 1956) would release two 45s for King subsidiary label, DeLuxe the following year – “Annabelle” b/w “Night Beat” + “Isabella” b/w “Gainesville” – the latter tune being one of his signature guitar statements. Gaines signed with RCA in 1958, and later in the 1960s would release singles for MCA subsidiary UNI and (pre-Arista) Bell Records, on which he recorded underappreciated “northern soul crossover” original, “Make It Easy.”
Quite a few Roy Gaines 45s have sold for 3 figures at auction
Cincinnati Celebrities on King
- Cincinnati television and radio personality, Bob Braun, was a King recording artist! Bob’s first 45 for King was a duet with another Cincinnati TV star, Dottie Mack – “Loaded with Love” b/w “My Baby Dearest Darling” – that was recorded on Sept. 28, 1954 at King Studios. Bob’s next (and final) King 45 – “All My Love” b/w “Broken Hearted” – was actually leased in 1959 from another label. Braun would also record for Cincinnati’s Fraternity label. as well as Decca, United Artists, and KY indie, Boone. More intriguing, though, is the “rock & roll” single that Braun issued early in his career, in contrast to his clean-cut image. Music scholars are still debating whether “Rock and Roll Country Girl” was recorded in 1954, the same year Elvis cut his legendary sessions at Sun. A cataloger’s note on Discogs says, “release date from internet sources and is unconfirmed.” Picture sleeve for 1973 Christmas single (on QCA) shows that Braun also recorded at Rusty York‘s Jewel Recording Studios in Mt. Healthy.
Bob Braun’s 1st King single –
78 written by Lucky Millinder & Henry Glover
1973 Christmas single on the QCA label
- After playing baseball with Babe Ruth for the Yankees in the 1920s, Waite Hoyt transitioned successfully in the 1940s to a career in broadcasting, as the Cincinnati Reds’ play-by-play voice for 24 years and Burger Beer pitchman.
Hoyt gained fame for entertaining radio audiences during rain delays, sharing anecdotes and telling vivid stories from his days on the field. In 1963, King put together an album of these stories called The Best of Waite Hoyt in the Rain.
1963 LP on King-distributed Personality Records
- Song-and-dance man and whimsical late-night television personality, Bob Shreve — with backing support from The Dee Felice Trio (celebrated in the previous piece) — would go into Cincinnati’s King Studios on four occasions between February and March of 1970 to record enough material for his lone King LP, Good Ole’ Bob Doing His Thing. A fair number of recordings remain “in the can,” according to Ruppli, such as “When I Take My Sugar To Tea“; “Just One of Those Songs“; “Do You Ever Think of Me” and “Raindrops” plus eight more songs whose titles are “unknown.”
1970 King LP – “A James Brown Production”
Rare King — At Auction
Among the pricier items that came up in my search for rare King vinyl via Popsike:
The winner goes to a 45 that is considered to be “the Holy Grail of soul records and with good reason,” as this copy sold in 2016 is said to be “the second copy known to exist and by the far the finest example” of Junior McCants‘ second and final 7-inch (promo) release — “Try Me For Your New Love” Total price paid: $17,100!
“Try Me For Your New Love” by Junior McCants = 1967
Close behind in second place is … the same 45! With a starting bid at $10, twenty-five bids later the final bid would reach $15,099 in 2008 for the Junior McCants 45 above.
Third-highest price paid for rare King vinyl is this “deep groove” copy of Roland Kirk’s debut album, Triple Threat (recently celebrated) in “near mint” condition — sold in 2015. Total price: $6886
In similar fashion, fourth-highest is a repeat winner — in this case, Roland Kirk’s debut album, sold in 2007 for $2878 [while others would sell for $2130 in 2005; for $1750 in 2009; and $1260 in 2015].
Other King-related vinyl that has sold in the four-figure range:
- Gatemouth Moore’s 1960 LP Sings the Blues sold in 2017 = for $2160 [while another copy sold in 2019 for $1300 and still another for $1251 in 2006].
- 1951 Swallows 45 “It Ain’t the Meat” b/w “Eternally” — sold in 2018 for $1500.
- This “ultra rare” Lonnie Johnson LP – packed with 12 songs per side and released by King in 1966 — sold in 2015 for $1250.
King-related vinyl that has sold in the three-figure range:
- Cody Black‘s 1968 King 45 “Keep On Keeping On” b/w “I’m Slowly Molding” fetched £640 (approx. $773) at auction in 2019. The previous year, a copy of this same 45 sold for $809, while someone paid $766 in 2008 for this disc.
- Someone coughed up $811 in 2009 for a John Lee Hooker/Sticks McGhee split LP Highway of Blues on King’s “budget” subsidiary label, Audio Lab.
- In 2004, someone shelled out $750 for a 1967 single by T.C. Lee & the Bricklayers “Up and Down the Hill” b/w “Get Away from Here.”
- With a total of 8 bids submitted, this “very rare” 1954 Roy Brown EP eventually fetched $691 in 2011.
Starday-King ad from the April 25, 1970 edition of Billboard
In the groove = Extreme close-up of artist roster
King Records Intersects With Classic Rock:
Zep & Aerosmith
The members of Led Zeppelin (i.e., The New Yardbirds) played “Train Kept a-Rollin’” as the opening number at their first ever rehearsal, and everyone remembers the experience as an electrifying moment. Earlier Jimmy Page had played a recording of Lonnie Mack’s “Lonnie on the Move” (recorded at King) for drummer John Bonham as a demonstration of what he was looking for in his “new” band.
Aerosmith, a band who was steeped in British hard rock and rivalled Led Zeppelin as one of the leading live rock bands of the 70s, also had a special relationship with “Train Kept a-Rollin’” I just learned from Aerosmith’s autobiography written with Zep biographer Stephen Davis. According to Jack Douglas, who produced their second album, Get Your Wings:
One of the last things we worked on was ‘Train Kept a-Rollin’.” Tiny Bradshaw wrote and recorded it in the forties, [Johnny Burnette’s] Rock and Roll Trio had a hit with it in the fifties, and the Yardbirds owned it in the sixties. Now Aerosmith had taken it over and wanted to show how it should be done in the seventies. It was their signature song. They wanted to record it live in front of an audience because it was their big showstopper, but that was really impractical at the time.
So I took the track we cut in the studio and some really big speakers, Joey [Kramer}’s PA that he used for his drums, and I blasted it into the famous stairwell at [NYC’s] Record Plant. We were on the tenth floor, and I put microphones on the eighth, sixth, and second floors so we’d get various delays and make it sound live. A couple years earlier, I had worked with George Harrison on the film mix of The Concert for Bangla Desh, and I had all this applause from Madison Square Garden on wild tracks. I just slowly moved this out to the stairwell and brought in the crowd. Sounds pretty live. Most people were fooled.
Aerosmith, you might recall, also included a memorable King cover on their follow up album Toys in the Attic – side one closing track, “Big Ten Inch Record,” originally recorded in 1952 by Moose Jackson and written by Fred Weismantel. Joe Perry: “Zunk Buker, our family dealer, heard Dr. Demento’s famous radio show on KLOS one night and sent us a tape with Bullmoose Jackson doing ‘Big Ten Inch Record’ from 1953. We go, ‘Wow, what a great [flippety] song.’ It was an R&B big band thing that we just reduced and did the old ‘white boys from suburbia do their version.’ It was the first time I remember working with a big horn section — the Brecker brothers, Stan Bronstein with his bass saxophone” (note the LP credits don’t name these musicians).
King Records History Meets … George Michael?!
In the course of putting together a Spotify birthday playlist for my wife, I took a detour to find another George Michael song to substitute for “Faith” and pulled up what I thought was the promo video for “Waiting For That Day,” but was actually a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of his 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice – Volume 1. King Records history fans, can you figure out which James Brown drum sample was used as the rhythm track for that song? Go ahead and hazard a guess (hint: Clyde Stubblefield) — you’re probably right! Answer can be found in this video clip:
George Michael in the Studio –
With master tape of “Waiting For That Day” (1990)
Clyde Austin Stubblefield (April 18, 1943 – February 18, 2017)