Cincinnati’s other prominent label – besides King – was Fraternity Records, who (in a tidy quirk of math) enjoyed three successive #2 hits between the years 1956 and 1958.
However, by 1963 things were looking grim — until Lonnie Mack entered the picture. Tip of the hat to David Edwards and Mike Calahan of Both Sides Now Publications for the back story:
By 1963, it had been a long time since [#2 hit] ‘All American Boy,’ [by Bill Parsons, a.k.a., Bobby Bare] and most people had forgotten about the label altogether. But in the summer of 1963, a young guitar player from Indiana by the name of Lonnie McIntosh had his band in King Records’ Cincinnati studio backing another artist. When some studio time was left, the band recorded an instrumental version of what at the time was a fairly obscure song, Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis.’ The recording was inspired; unlike the slow tempo of Berry’s version, McIntosh rolled out a snappy, danceable, and in retrospect, memorable, version of the song that Fraternity issued under the name Lonnie Mack. It made #5 on the national charts. ‘Memphis’ was obscure no more, as other artists such as Johnny Rivers did the song in Mack’s faster tempo and it became a Chuck Berry classic.
Photo courtesy of Holly Mack
I could not agree more with Richie Unterberger (in the All Music Guide to Blues) and his assessment of Lonnie Mack’s under-appreciated B-side “Snow on the Mountain,” a recording that he deems “a first-class overlooked blue-eyed soul cooker from 1967”:
“Snow on the Mountain”
90 ‘views’ on YouTube as of 12/12/22
Soulful Kinda Music & other credible sources document the fact that this song was used as a flip side in the latter part of 1966 – and then again the next year! Moreover, 45Cat shows the song – initially titled “There’s Snow on the Mountain” – as an A-side the first time around: could this be true?
Bonus History –
All Roads Lead to Shad O’Shea
Photo courtesy of Discogs