Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Swordsmen Gospel Trio

The Swordsmen Gospel Trio
LP "I'm Gonna Move"

22945 - I'm Gonna Move; A Quiet Room; Welcome Home; I'm on My Way; His Name Is Wonderful; Win the Lost;

22946 - Remind Me; Talk About Jesus; A Fool Such as I; At the Crossing; I'm Gonna' Try; and He Looked Beyond My Fault.

The Swordsmen Gospel Trio : T.O. Reese ,J.B. Johnny Reese [b.1945-d.2007] and W.E. (Eddie) Arnold.

Warning: imagination at work.
See six identical covers posted HERE.
But this time, theyFLIPPED the picture!
Very clever.

Ted McCracken & The Memory Makers

Ted McCracken & The Memory Makers
Remember When
Label : DJ

Rite # 36077/36078

Cover band out of Ohio.

Still active six years after
Cincinnati Magazine ad, July 1982


1. Only You
2. Pretty Woman
3. Love Me
4. Blue Moon
5. Hearbreak Hotel
6. Remember When
7. Run Away
8. Long Tall Sally Meldey
9. Alley Oop
10. Peggy Sue

Tony Senn on Rainstar

Tony Senn

Rainstar EP 506
A division of McDowell Records

12153 -Poor Old Lonely Me / Something I Never Had
12154 - Bed of Loneliness / Two Instead of Three


Born Mar. 26, 1934 in Troy, AL, Tony Senn was a singer, guitarist and songwriter. He recorded in the for Camellia, McDowell, Briar, Dianne and Mana-T. His manager was Clyde Perdue, former manager for Hank Williams.

His best record is the McDowell rockabilly recording "The King's Comin' Home ". This record is so rare that Rockin' Country Style doesn't even have a label shot for it.

He was probably more successful as a songwriter than a singer and his songs were recorded by such country stars as Carl Belew and Porter Waggoner (Boston Jail), Wilma Burgess (Look At The Laughter) and Marty Robbins (Ain't Life A Crying Shame).

Jamack Productions Inc.

Jamack 108

Winston Salem North Carolina
Owned by Rev. Johnny R. Hayes

Jamack 101
Echoes of Eden
29281 - A Leak in this Building
29282 - Every Day With Jesus
Black gospel from Thomasville NC
Prod Johnny R. Hayes

Jamack 107
The M.P.T. Celestial Choir
30289 - Wings Of A Dove
30290 - Fill My Cup
Black gospel
Produced by Rev. Johnny R. Hayes

Jamack 108
  Louis Miller and The Voices of Gethsemane
30487 - A Closer Walk With Thee
  Al Andres and The Voices of Gethsemane
30488 - That's A Blessing
Produced by J.R. Hayes and Leroy Glenn

Jamack LP ?St. Stephen Baptist Church Young Adult Choir
LP We'll All Be As One

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Heavenly Five

The Heavenly Five
Lead B.Brown – J. Jackson
[no label name]
CP 4325 - God's Sweet Grace
CP-4326 - Hold To God's Unchanging Hand

Su-Ma publishing co. on both sides.

An early instance of the name of this publishing company owned by Stan Lewis who started Jewel Records in 1963 and later Paula and Ronn Records.

Is Stan Lewis really the writer of these two gospel songs? The BMI database says he is. At the time it was not an uncommon practice in the recording world for the producer to take the credit of the song writing.

Thus, regarding the Stan Lewis practice and according to one of the Dale Hawkins biography available online :

"Although Dale Hawkins wrote "Susie Q" alone, Stan Lewis and "E. Broadwater" are credited as co-writers. Hawkins explained that "Broadwater" was the maiden name of the wife of Gene Nobles, one of the 1950s' great R&B disc jockeys. By taking a songwriting credit, Nobles was in effect taking payola in the same manner that Alan Freed did when his name was put on Chuck Berry's "Maybellene": the DJs gave the song airplay in return for receiving royalties. Shortly before his death, Nobles assigned his share back to Hawkins. Lewis was another matter. "He said that I sold him 'Suzie Q' for $125 and he was taking half of everything I made. It's bull. All you gotta say is: The man has never written a line of a song that I have ever had. But his signature, he wrote good."

Southland Singers of Baltimore, Md.

Southland Singers of Baltimore, Md.
Margie Cheeks, piano

Dayton, Ohio

24075 - I Have To Cry Sometime
24076 - I Found The Answer

Black gospel will be added in this SAS discography.

Sab Florence E.

Sab Florence E.

Band Box 389

22737 - I Need Your Love
22738 - Why Must It Be

One of the last releases on this Colorado label. Both sides written by the singer, Florence Espinoza.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Havenaires Family Gospel Singers

The Havenaires Family Gospel Singers sing Gethsemane
[Rite # 29145/20146]

Side One

1. Remind Me, Dear Lord
2. Sometimes A Mountain
3. His Hand In Mine
4. I Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now
5. Sheltered In The Arms Of God
6. Gethsemane

Side Two

1. I Just Came To Talk With You, Lord
2. Father Dear
3. Build My Mansion Next Door To Jesus
4. Thanks To Calvary
5. Upper Room
6. Trouble In The Amen Corner

The Havenaires Family Gospel Singers
(From left to right, sitting) : Ada Leek - Rhythm Guitar and Lead, Joe Leek - Lead Guitar And First Tenor, Brenda Leek – Second Tenor, (Back row) Sharon Miller – Solo, Steve Miller – Guitar, Robert Burr – Guitar, Cheryl Burr – Bass Guitar And Alto

The Pen Etts

The Pen Etts
Becco 0001 (63)

10133 - That's No Way To Spend My Time
10134 – If I Never See You Again
Detroit, Michigan
Produced by G. Penney

That's No Way To Spend My Time
(W.Garrett - G.Penney - C.Bell)

The Silver Stars of Washington, D.C. on Pinewood

The Silver Stars of Washington, D.C.
Norfolk, Virginia

30315 - Jacob's Ladder [wr. Maurice Wilson]
30316 - Tramp On The Street [wr. Maurice Wilson]

Vocal : Maurice Wilson
Spiritual produced by Bill Johnson and Earl Long

Gospel on a prolific label
Not listed in the Just Moving On Pinewood discography.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jim Robinette

Jim Robinette
Fee Bee 713
33507 - Want You – Need You
33508 - Darling I Must Tell You

The Rocks (Left, Jim Robinette)

Jim Robinette was one of the original members of The Rocks, a group formed by Ward Darby in the fifties. The Rocks had a single issued by Porter Records in 1957. Jim backed Ward Darby on some of his Fee-Bee releases and was half of the Guitar Twins on Joe Averbach's Star label in 1958. Besides, nothing is known about what happened to him between 1958 and 1974, year of this solitary release on Fee Bee.

Romco label

Out of Wichita, Kansas the Romco label (owned by Richard Miller?) seems to have been short lived. Two singles were issued and an album by sixteen-year old Isabel Baker, all this in 1965. That's her on the cover, holding a Fender Jaguar. I have no confirmation that the album was pressed by Rite. But I don't have indication that it was not pressed by Rite Records, so it's listed here. Note that the lead guitarist Bob Garvey on the album is likelyRobert Bruce Garvey who wrote both sides of The Breakers single. Was he also the lead guitarist of this garage band?

The Breakers
Romco 101
15013 ~ She's Bound To Put You Down
15014 ~ Tears In The Rain

She's Bound To Put You Down

Larry Hurst/The Keys
Romco 102
15011 – Sea Of Love
15012 – Linda Lou

Linda Lou

Isabel Baker
Romco LP HF-101
"I Like God’s Style"

Side 1 :
1 - I Like God's Style - 2:10
2 - The Gaderian - - 2:29
3 - When I Walk in the Valley - 2:09
4 - It Wasn't Done in a Corner - 1:51
5 - This O'Le Worlds' a Big Let Down - 2:38
6 - Seven Thousand More - 1:55

Side 2 :
1 - I'm Coming Back to Thee - 1:56
2 - I Have Peace - 2:51
3 - You Gotta Meet Him - 2:37
4 - All is Vanity - 2:21
5 - He's Never Too Late - 2:18
6 - God's Big Heart - 2:48

Cut June 18th and 19th, 1965 at the studios of High Fidelity Recordings Inc., 445 N.Oliver, Wichita, Kansas.

Isabel Baker, Rhythm,
Joe Utterback, piano
Bob Garvey, lead
Don Nunn, bass
Jim Kincaid, drums

I Like God's Style

Friday, February 20, 2009

Braddock Hills FBC Chorale

Braddock Hills FBC Chorale
soloist : Sheila Williams

FBC PP 1009 -- (1972)
29713 - I Heard The Voice (Of Jesus Say)
29714 - Wade In The Water

Arrangement : Charles Robinson
Drums: G. Young
Bass: L.Parker
Organ: M.Johnson
Bongos: Chuckie
Engineer: G.Rhamy

Recorded at Peppermint Productions, Inc., Youngstown, Ohio
Black Gospel Youngstown, Ohio

A "new" addition to the multi-labels Peppermint series, right after the
Apollo single (PP1008, Gary Kennedy and the Mahoning Valley Boys).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas
Wild 907
36875 - I Gotta Change My Ways (If I’m To Keep Her) (Part 1)
36876 - I Gotta Change My Ways (If I’m To Keep Her) (Part 2)

Boston, Mass., 1976

Scored and conducted by Roger Baker
Engineer : Mike Golub
Produced and arranged by Julius Thomas for Lew Tobin Enterprises
A « Skippy White » production

"Skippy White" (real name Fred LeBlanc) grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts. He fell in love with the doo-wop sound when he was young. He started working in Boston in 1960 as a deejay at WILD-AM, where he became, reluctantly, Skippy White.

White rented a storefront for $50 and opened his own record store. Both store and radio show clicked. White stayed at WILD for eight years before moving on to a series of other stations.

He also owned at least three record labels : Wild, Bluestown and Silver Cross. He was also certainly involved in production for others local labels such as the Ditto label (the C-Quins) and for the Stop label.

For the Julius Thomas release, the Wild label, likely dormant for years, was revived in association with Lew Tobin, owner of Sterling Records, a song-poem concern.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bobby Estes

Bobby Estes
Ecco 45-0001

19633 – Why Do I Still Love You
19634 – You’ll Never Know

Falmouth, VA


Low Ebb on Patten Bennett

Low Ebb
Patten Bennett 1001

26069 - Somewhere

26070 - Can't Make Up My Mind

Produced and recorded by Sound Associates
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Lodestar (Springfield, Ohio)

label : Lodestar
Rite # 40603/4

side 1

Flat On My Face
Brook, Flow To Me
Don't Mistake My Being
For The Want Of A Woman

side 2

Footprints On The Trail
Ain't Nothin¡' To Me
Too Far Behind
Key Of Love

Kenny Aronhalt - lead vocals
Joe Dooley - lead guitar
Alex Rossitto - rhythm guitar and harmony vocals
Vince Crain - bass
Mark Crain - drums and percussion

Produced, arranged and engineered by Jimmy Crain
Recorded at J.C. 's Sound Shop -Springfield, Ohio

Various sources are unsure about the year of release : it's definitely 1979.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jimmy Crain : Miles To Go

Jimmy Crain
Ray-O LP-2005
Rite numbers 21361/21362 [1968]
Rite account : 2011

Miles To Go

Track listing :
Last Thing I Do
Miles To Go
Please Be Careful
Call Me
Somewhere, Someone
Pardon My Love

Seminole [instr.]
Maybe Someday
Rockin' [instr.]
Jammin' [instr.]
I Know
C'mon Little Baby

JIMMY CRAIN, born 17 April 1940, Lima, Ohio, a somewhat obscure rock and roller, is best known for his two pounding rockers "Rock-A-Socka-Hop" and "Shig-A-Shag".

Jimmy was a multi-talented youngster. By the age of seven, he was able to play several musical instruments, including guitar, banjo and mandolin. Less than ten years later he was playing regularly at county fairs, dotted about Ohio and neighbouring Indiana. In addition to this, Jimmy was also employed as a session musician at a studio in Dayton, Ohio.

Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, Jimmy signed a recording deal with Floyd Whited, owner of the Springfield, Ohio based Spangle label. Jimmy's first and only release on Spangle was "Shig-A-Shag", which was recorded at Bradley Studios in Nashville. The record caught on in the Mid-West and the East Coast. This led to a string of radio and TV dates, as well as the odd package tour, where he played alongside such rock 'n' roll notables as The Big Bopper, Link Wray and Dion and the Belmonts.

"Rock-A-Socka Hop" was recorded in the autumn of 1957 and sounds a lot like "Shig-A-Shag" and came out in 1962 on another tiny Ohio label, Prism, never lets up from start to finish.

Jimmy went on to record for a succession of small independents, but very little, if anything at all, was released at the time, until Cees Klop issued two White Label LP's in 1974 (Rock in' With Jimmy Crain) and 1977 (Jimmy Crain Rocks On) respectively. When his first son was born in February of 1960, Jimmy decided to quit the road and went into semi-retirement, playing only local shows.

In April 1975, Jimmy suffered a severe spinal injury in an accident, but by early 1979 he produced on his own Lodestar label a hard rock band also named Lodestar, which comprised his two sons and three others members. The resulting album (pressed by Rite Records) is « full of heavy, blistering guitar work, often compared to Hard Rock rarities such as Totty or Morley Grey. Every song is laden with screaming leads and a rough, in your face attitude.”

Cathedral Quartet :Taller Than Trees

LP DoViNe D-21, 1965

Track listing :
Taller Than Trees
Noah Found Grace
I Want To Walk Just As Close As I Can
Heavenly Parade
Sunday Meetin' Time
Close To The Master

Tramp On The Street
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
I'll Pray For You
I Wouldn't Take Nothin' For My Journey Now
Faith Unlocks The Door
Out Of The Depths
Re-issued on the Eternal label in 1970.

The Cathedral Trio—Bobby Clark, Glen Payne, and Danny Koker—was formed at the Cathedral for Tomorrow in Akron, Ohio in 1963. In 1964, they added bass George Younce and became a quartet. For the first seven years of their existence, they performed and travelled with evangelist Rex Humbard, the pastor of the Cathedral for Tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mary Jo Brown With the Palm Jubilees

Mary Jo Brown, Vocal
With the Palm Jubilees :
Lola Mae Wilson, Second lead
Emma Davis, First soprano
Willie Lee Shelton, tenor
Shirley Weathersby, pianist
Lena Weathersby, alto
Don London, organist

Central 219-5

Hattiesburg, Miss.

CP-3961 - How Long ( Rite 291 CP3961 219-5A)
CP-3962 - There's A Time, There's A Place (Rite 291 CP3962 219-5B)

A Brown & Woullards production (R.W. Woullard Sr. And R.W. Woullard Jr.)


NOTE : Numbers 3961/3962 were also used for R&J 100 :


Numbers also used twice were 11213/4 :

Ark 298


The Gospel Queens

The Gospel Queens

Gary, Indiana

33345 – He Can Do Anything
Lead by Marguerite Ewell

33346 – Come To Jesus
Lead Catherine Freeman

Marguerite Ewell was born in a small town in Southwest, Louisiana, called Paincourtville. At an early age she exhibited a singing talent and was given many opportunities to perform in family circles and at school where she was selected as the main soloist throughout her studies. When she was still a young girl her family organized a group called the JONES SINGERS, which included her mother, aunts and uncles.

She attended W. H. Reed High School in Napoleonville, Louisiana from 1963 to 1968, when she migrated to Chicago where she continued her education by enrolling at Chicago State University. She was asked by the GOSPEL QUEENS (an all female gospel group) to join their group. She travelled with them throughout the USA. She met and married Lafayette GATLING Sr. who is lead singer for the famed quartet "The CHRISTLAND SINGERS".

In 1981, she was one of the founders of the INSPIRATIONAL CHARMS.


King Victor on Miracle

King Victor
Chuck Coffey and the Sterlings
Miracle 0001 (1959)

CP-2246 – Ecstacy
CP-2247 – Is It True

Obscure unknown Elvis-ey Georgia rocker. Has never been compiled, as it seems.

Chuck Coffey (or Coffee as credited as the co-writer of both songs) is also unknown to me, as are indeed The Sterlings.

There was a King Victor on the New-York Madison label released earlier in the same year. But I feel that's it's not the same singer. I'll let you judge by yourself :

Gospel Crusaders (Clarksburg, West Virginia)

Gospel Crusaders
154 Howard Street
Clarksburg, West Virginia
Rite # 31025/31026

LP I Want To Know More About My Lord

The tracks are:

Side 1

I Want To Know More About My Lord
Because He Lives
Glory Road That Day is Almost Here
I've Come Too Far

Side 2

I'll Have a New Life
The Lighthouse
This is Just What Heaven Means to Me
Poor Rich Man
At Jesus' Feet

The Gospel Crusaders are :

Rodney Redbrook, lead
Faye Furner, alto
Charles Furner, tenor
Michael Aiello, bass
Don Ice, accompaning

Chuck Rich, steel
Recording engineer : Phil Burkhardt

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Shannings

The Shannings

Texas (?)

Two 1968 releases on the Viv-Vi label, both by The Shannings.

The name of the publisher, Tata Grande, is perhaps an indication of a Texas location, as the name is also found on Injun 603 (Baby Doll, Vincent Renilli - Houston Texas) and on the Sleeper label (Learnin' to pick, Chris Collins - East Texas or Louisiana).

"Skip" Andrews is the songwriter (or the Shannins' lead?).

20411 – Love Is For Fools
20412 - A Mood In
Produced by Gene Deans & Bill Wiggs

22357 – I Need You
22358 – The End Of The World
Produced by Gene Deans, Bill Wiggs, Dick Etheridge

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Chapel-Aires Quartet : "Till The End of Time"

The Chapel-Aires Quartet
"Till The End of Time"
[Oklahoma City, Oklahoma]

Track listing :

Till The End Of Time
I'm Building A Bridge
Day Of Rejoicing
I Am A Pilgrim
Hear Him Call
Lights Of Home

Lonely Road
Just A Little Talk With Jesus
I'll Fly Away
What Can I Do For You, Lord
Without Him
Life's Railway To Heaven

The Chapel-Aires Quartet are Anita Rich, Homer Blair, Jim Elrod, Ed Rich and Forrest S. Lewis.

The Pantana Quartet

The Pantana Quartet
[Elida, Ohio]
Unknown Rite numbers

Track Listing:

1. Blessed Assurance
2. Oh What A Love
3. Amazing Grace
4. His Name Is Wonderful
5. Win the Lost At Any Cost
6. When I Survey the Wonderous Cross
7. No Other Song
8. The Master's Voice
9. How Great Thou Art
10. If You Want Joy
11. Heaven Came Down
12. One of These Days

Nancy Clayton on Starlet

Nancy Clayton
Starlet BLP 130
Recorded by Bill Lamb Productions, Flint Michigan

21487 – I Can’t Release You
21488 – Love Is The Bitter End

Side 1 produced by Clarance Sprague;
side 2 produced by Graham Prince



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teen Challenge Presents Louis Velez

Teen Challenge Presents Louis Velez
Label : Ross
Rehrersburg, Pa
Rite # 18661/18662

side 1 :

How Great Thou Art
It Took A Miracle /Amazing Grace
My Father Watches Over Me
His Name Is Wonderful
My Song
Now I Belong To Jesus

Side 2 :

He’s The Darling Of My Soul/He Is My Everything
But His I Know
He Was There
How About Your Heart
Only One Life
I’m Not Alone

Musical Credits :
Music directed by Danny Koker (Piano & Organ)
Cathedral Quartet (Voices)
Leona Jones (Bass)
Vic Clay (Guitar)

Producer :
Delmar Ross, Director Of Field Ministries For Teen Challenge Training Center

The Missionary Gospel Singers of Cleveland Ohio

The Missionary Gospel Singers of Cleveland Ohio

Acquarian 9935
Hattiesburg, Miss.

10339 - Lord You Been Good
10340 - On The Other Side

Rite account # 352

Lord You Been Good.


Black female gospel shouter with bluesy guitar. A Calvin C. Brown production.

Possibly the only Acquarian record pressed by Rite : most all others were pressed by Southern Plastics of Nashville. The Acquarian label was just one of many labels owned by Calvin C. Brown, but it was his most prolific. Later releases on the label had addresses in Stuttgart, Arkansas, then in Memphis, Tennessee.

Earliest Calvin Brown's labels located in Hattiesburg were pressed by Rite Records :
  • Marathon (The Original Five Blind Boys of Mississippi), 1959
  • Central (Prentis and Doris Parker, with the Zionettes, Guitar Dave), 1960
In 1968, he produced "Cummins Prison Farm" by Calvin Leavy for the Shelby Singleton's Blue Fox label and subsequently launched in Stuttgart, Arkansas his Riceland (1969) and Soul Beat (1970-1973) labels

The Missionary Gospel Singers
Back row center : Mrs. Elvina Finger, front row right : Mrs. Dean

Rev. C. T. Nelson, Pastor

Rev. C. T. Nelson, Pastor
Great Friendship Baptist Church Cleveland
26115 - Great Consolation
26116 - A Prayer

Produc [sic] of Staff

This is a re-issue [reproduced by Della’s Record Shop, as printed on the label]. These Detroit, Michigan recordings were previously issued by Idessa Malone's Staff Records (see picture below)

The Chapman Family Singers

The Chapman Family Singers
Lead guitar – Brother Thomas Chapman Jr.
Bass – Brother Timothy Chapman
Drums – Deacon Jack Horn

27291 - I Can Feel The Hand Of God Leading Me
27292 - Pray On My Child

Rev. D.T. Baker & His Singing Family

Rev. D.T. Baker & His Singing Family
label : Baker
19137 - I Promised The Lord I'd Holdout
19138 - It's In My Heart

Monday, February 9, 2009

Country Boy Don McHan

Country Boy Don McHan Sings the Gospel
Laurel LSLP-116
Cullowhee, North Carolina
Unknown Rite numbers

Side One –

He's Just A Touch Away
That Little Church I Carry
He'll Do The Same For You
Jesus' Power
One Heartbeat Away

Side Two –

St. John
He Breathes In Me
Jubilee On Smoky Mountain
This Carpenter Loves You
The Garden Of Your Mind

Don McHan worked in the entertainment world for a number of years with groups like Jim & Jesse and he has written over a hundred songs that are on record by various artists, like Loretta Lynn ("The Pill") and Waylon Jennings. A performer, songwriter and musician Don went home (passed away) in 2003.

About "The Pill" the song he co-wrote :

[Excerpt from Music of the Counterculture Era, a book by James E. Perone]
Altough it might not ordinarily be considered a true counterculture classic, one of the great feminist songs of the 1970s was Loretta Lynn, T.D. Bayless and Don McHan’s « The Pill ». Lynn included the song on her 1975 album Back To The Country. Not only did the single release achieve success on the country charts, it also made it onto the pop charts. Due to the sympathetic treatment of birth control, the song wa banned by Boston radio stations, which helped « The Pill » gain consderable notoriety. « The Pill » also appeared on Loretta Lynn’s 1976 album Blue-Eyed Kentucky Girl. In the context of the latter album, which featured songs that looked at life from a uniquely female perspective, the appearance of « the Pill » suggest the extent to which reproductive freedom for women was becoming mainstream at the end of the counterculture era.

The Humbards, Suppertime and Elvis

The Humbards
No label [Yougstown, Ohio]
Rite 11877/17878

Musical Credits: Leona Jones and Danny Koker Recorded in Cleveland, Ohio, Schneider Studio, Spring 1964

Side 1 :

Noah Found Grace
Jesus, Wonderfullord
Gathering Home
I'm Going Higher
When The Saints Go Marching
Wasted Years

Side 2 :

Like A Melody
I Shall Not Be Moved
Down From His Glory
I Will Not Be A Stranger
I've Found A Hiding Place
You Ain't Got Nuthin
He'll Understand And Say Well Done.

The Humbards and Elvis

Excerpts from a Church Times article "The Good News on Elvis" written by Joe Moscheo.

[Elvis] was fond of watching evangelists on television. Cathedral of Tomorrow, a programme featuring the preacher Rex Humbard and his wife, Maude Aimee, was perhaps his most consistent choice.

Humbard was Elvis’s favourite preacher. Even if he was in the middle of a rehearsal, he would always stop when Humbard spoke on television on Sunday mornings. Others who were close to Elvis at the time remembered that, with the combination of preaching from television, and the words and images of the gospel music he sang, he managed to achieve what he thought was his closest possible approach to a normal devotional life.

[Later] Rex Humbard and his wife were vacationing in Las Vegas. They called their friend, the gospel singer James Blackwood, and asked if he knew of a way they could get tickets to see Elvis’s show. Soon, the Humbards had front-row seats.


Elvis knew that they were there, and wanted a chance to speak with the people whose ministry he had admired for so long. He invited them to his dressing room after the show.

“Elvis, I want you to know I’ve been praying for you for years,” Maude Aimee Humbard said, a few minutes into the visit. “You’re my bellsheep.”

Elvis was puzzled by this terminology, and asked for an explanation. Rex explained to him that shepherds in the Holy Land often tied a bell around the neck of one of the sheep. The rest of the flock would follow wherever they were led by the sound of the bell.

“Elvis,” Maude Aimee went on, “I’ve been praying that you’ll have a spiritual experience that will cause you to lead thousands of people to the Lord.”

At that point, something happened to Elvis. Rex related later how Elvis began to tremble, and tears began rolling down his cheeks. The Humbards prayed with Elvis. It was a moment of profound spiritual experience for all three of them.

When the Humbards tried to leave, knowing that many other people were waiting to speak to Elvis, he begged them to stay. Clearly, something had happened that he was hoping to prolong; he had found a place of respite that had apparently long been absent, despite his searching and questioning about various spiritual paths.

I believe that, in those moments with the Humbards, Elvis was brought back to what he had known from his earliest days. I suspect that in Maude Aimee’s words, he heard echoes of his mother’s voice, and was reminded of the teaching he had received as a boy in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Joe Moscheo is the author of The Gospel Side of Elvis, published by Center Street on 30 August 2007 (£12.99; 978-1-59995-729-6).

Hear the four year old twins, Drusilla and Susanna Humbard singing " I've Found a Hiding Place"