Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“No Good Robin Hood”: Top Rockabilly from Future Crime Fighter

From the liner notes of the Ace CD compilation, King Rockabilly:

Delbert Barker was born on a farm in Frenchberg, Kentucky on December 3, 1932 and moved to Middletown, Ohio, near Cincinnati, in 1943.  During his teens, he began participating in amateur talent contests and eventually gained sufficient confidence to turn semi-pro, appearing on local radio and TV.

“Between 1951 and 1953, he performed alongside other local favourites (including the Davis Sisters) on Mid-Day Merry Go-Round, a daytime show on WCPO-TV Cincinnati.  These appearances brought Barker to the attention of Paul Burkhardt, who ran a small recording studio and pressing plant, and specialized in producing cheap cover versions of recent hits on low-budget labels, such as Queen City, Kentucky and Tops.  Between 1951 and 1954, the versatile and adaptable Barker worked as a session vocalist for Burkhardt, recording over 100 tracks, some of which were released as singles on the Kentucky label with the remainder appearing on EPs and LPs with titles like Four Big Hits and 16 Top Hits.  ‘I had five different voices,’ Barker says, ‘I did Carl Smith, Hank Williams, Hank Thompson, Faron Young and some Lefty Frizzell.’  Marriage took Barker out of the music business until early 1956 when he recorded a creditable version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ under the pseudonym, Terry Wall, for Burkhardt’s Hep label.

Delbert Barker

“This impressed [King Records‘ A&R Director of Folk & Western] Louis Innis who signed Barker to King as its answer to Carl Perkins.  Both ‘No Good Robin Hood‘ and the previously unissued ‘Jug Band Jump’ were recorded [in Cincinnati] at Barker’s initial session on Jun 19, 1956″:

“Barker made a total of three singles for the label, two in 1956 and a third in 1961.  He says, ‘In 1957 I went to Philadelphia to play guitar for Ruth and Slim Swighert, a local duet.  A year later, I went to Secaucus, New Jersey and worked as a guitar man for the Warren Brothers, Shorty and Smokey.  I stayed with them until January 1959, then returned to Middletown.  About 1960, I left music and went into law enforcement in Middletown, although I went back and recorded a country 45 for King in 1961.”

No Good Robin Hood 45(Written by Delbert Barker & Louis Innis)

“Barker rose to the rank of Lieutenant in Charge of Detectives and wrote and played in his spare time.  ‘You Almost Slipped My Mind,’ a song he wrote in 1968, was recorded by a number of country artists, most notably Charley Pride, who took it to #1 on the country charts in 1981.”

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