Friday, September 2, 2011

The Del Rios on Bet..T

The Del Rios

CP-4977 ~ Heavenly Angel
CP-4978 ~ Dangerous Lover

Bet..T Records

(Memphis, Tennessee)


The Del Rios, one of Memphis, TN's pioneering vocal groups, started in the '50s. Different guys came in and out, but one constant was William Bell. They performed on shows with Phineas Newborn, a Memphis jazz legend, and found regular employment in clubs. The initial Del Rios single dropped in 1956 on Meteor Records, a small label in Memphis; the single "Alone on a Rainy Night" b/w "Lizzie" increased the group's popularity locally but that's about it.

William Bell : "We would do two gigs on the weekend. We would play for the college kids at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, right across the Mississippi river in Arkansas.owned by Betty Berger and her husband, which was like a high energy dance club, and then we had a later set at the Flamingo Room. Betty Berger was during that time a night club owner. She and her husband owned the Plantation Inn in West Memphis We recorded that single for her.”

Del Rios biography by Andrew Hamilton
Soulexpress article

Owner of Bet..T Records Bettye Berger was born in 1930.

In 1955, Bettye started to work on WHER, the worlds first all womens radio station created by Sam Phillips :
Crammed into an 18-by-35-ft. studio in a Holiday Inn in Memphis, WHER was the nation's first "all-girl" radio station—not that you couldn't tell from the decor. There were plush pastel carpets, walls painted aqua and pink and doors marked with colorful names like DOLL'S DEN and GIRL FRIDAY. "It was like walking into Disney World—and the girls were beautiful and sweet," recalls Berger more than 40 years later.
Through her connections with Sam, she meet the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. She only went on a few dates with the king. She wrote a ballad called 'Please Convince Me That You Love Me' that Elvis wanted to record at and speed it up in to a Rock n Roll style song and she refused. She laughs now by saying what a fool she was for not allowing Elvis to record it. (The song was recorded by Buddy Cunningham and issued on Phillips Int'l 3516 in November 1957.)

In 1959, she is credited (as Bettye Maddox) as the co-writer of several songs released on the West Coast American International label : "Campus Raid" (The Nighthoppers), "Headless Ghost" (the Nightmares) and "We Love The Dodgers" (Jimmie Maddin).

When she was 35, she joined a booking agency for musical artists. She was the only female agent the company had ever had. When a man did not pay her $1800 dollars for a booking, because she was a female and he thought that a woman shouldn't have that much money, she quit the firm that she was working with and created her own.

Her first client was Charlie Rich. Soon after word of her success spread, more and more artists became aware of the new, small, agency. Willie Mitchell, a trumpet player and an influential producer also joined her roster. At one point, her agency had outdone the national agency that she had previously worked for.

A entire chapter (by Laura Helper-Ferris) of "Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times", a book edited by Sarah Wilkerson Freeman and Beverly Bond, is devoted to Bettye Berger.

Another release on the same label. The address (201 S.Cleveland, Memphis) was also the address of Bettye's Continental Artists Inc., her booking agency.


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