Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sonny Rhodes on Cherrie

Sonny Rhodes

35833 ~ Are We Losing Our Thing
35834 ~ Hen Pecked Man  sample

Cherrie 2380
56 Teresa St.
Dale City, CA 94014

produced by C. White


Clarence Edward Smith, better known by his stage name Sonny Rhodes is an American blues singer and guitarist.

Born November 3, 1940 in Texas. He was influenced by such blues musicians as T-Bone Walker, Percy Mayfield, Pee Wee Crayton, L.C. Robinson and B.B. King. He plays lap steel guitar and also learned to play bass guitar. 

His first record was as leader of The Daylighters on Domino Records.  The Daylighters also backed white female singer Joyce Harris on the same label  :

Joyce Harris and the Daylighters never played in public, only on records, so she was adamant about regular rehearsals before they stepped into the studio.
"One night, the Daylighters didn't show up, and so I got in my car and went looking for them," recalls Harris, a New Orleans native. There was a place over on "the Cuts," slang for East 11th Street, where the Daylighters liked to hang, and sure enough the musicians were coming out of the club when Harris pulled up. "Don't you remember, we've got a rehearsal?" she said. "Get in."   But bandleader Clarence Smith and the other three hesitated.   In Texas in 1961, black men didn't get in a car with a white woman, but Harris would have none of that. "Get in!" she said again, her tone amplified, and the band eventually complied, though it was an uneasy drive across town.

from Little indie label Domino laid down Austin sounds before scene's heyday

Note : has a few errors, notably the date of this Cherrie single.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jimmy Patrick on Renaud

Jimmy Patrick
CP-2128 ~ $20 Dollar Bill
Decatur Renaud
Decatur Renaud
Renaud 540314/5
August 1959

Decatur Renaud also wrote “Betty Jane” (jan. 59) and "Queens of New Orleans".  No other info.
Audio : LP "Rockin' and Rhearsing" (White Label 8958, 1990)
Labels : e-bay

Friday, December 21, 2012

Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs on Cole

Maurice Williams
And The Zodiacs
 (Former Gladiolas)

     CP-2466 – Lover (Where Are You)
Williams-Massey, Colehard Music BMI

CP-2467 – She’s Mine
Williams-Gore, Colehard Music BMI

Cole 101

A P. Gernhard And J. Carter Production
Nationally Distributed By National

November 1959

Their second release on the label  (first was as by the Zodiacs ( "  T Town / Golly Gee "  - Cole 100, a RCA custom pressing)

Cole Records, located at 2441 Rigby Dr., Columbia, S. C, was started in the summer of 1959 by Vincent Cole and Phil Bernhardt.    

They were originally named the Royal Charms.   Ernie Young, prexy of Excello Records, changed their name to the Gladiolas after their first recording session in Nashville.  
In 1958, when the group left Excello Records, and because the Gladiolas name stayed with the label, they have to renamed themselves :
The group would undergo yet another name change. “When the contract was up with Ernie, we decided to go more national, because he only distributed in the southeast. We were in West Virginia getting our car fixed, because the station wagon had broken down and we were in this dealership and there was this car called the Zodiac. My bass player Robert Gore saw the car and suggested we think of the name Zodiacs and we liked it, because it was completely different. It was a European car (U.K – Ford). Then our manager said, ‘We will call you Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs and then you do not have to worry about your name anymore.    Interview with Maurice Williams

Their biggest hit came with "Stay",  a song Maurice Williams had written years earlier about that one Lancaster girl and the night she had to leave because she had to be home by 10 :00 pm.  

In 1960, Herald released « Stay », and audiences loved hearing about Williams’s efforts to persuade his girlfriend to remain past her curfew as he assures her that her parents won’t mind if she stays for just on more dance.  By November, the record had reached #1, and at one minute and thirty-seven seconds the record is well known for being at the shortest #1 record in the history of the Billboard charts.  Today it’s estimated that the record has sold more than ten millions copies.    Carolina Beach Music: The Classic Years by  Rick Simmons, book.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Flock-Rocker on Planet

The Flock-Rocker
The Crown Prince Of The Blues

CP-1597 - After Hours (No. 2)

Mitchell Hearns, Planet Music BMI
Guitar solo by Johnnie B. Goode

     Planet Record Co. 103
St. Louis 13, MO.

Released 58/08/21

note : guitarist Johnnie B. Goode is probably Bennie Smith, tough Blues Records discography doesn't list him as member at  the Planet session, incidentally erroneously dated 1961  (see discography below)

Born Mitchell Hearns, the Flock-Rocker, also known as Gabriel,  was born in Louisiana, he attended Lincoln High School in East St. Louis at the same time as Miles Davis.  Gabriel was buddies with Davis brother, Vernon Davis, and the two played in school bands together.  He had his own band in the 1950s that included the "Dean of St. Louis Electric Guitarists" Bennie Smith.

Through the years, Gabriel came to know many of the musical greats. Gabriel has hung out with Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and Chuck Berry. A buddy of another blues and rock elder, Ike Turner, Gabriel occasionally mentions on air that he used to shuttle Turners ex-wife, Tina Turner, to gigs because Ike trusted Gabriel not to make a pass at her.

He ran a record store called the House Of The Blues in St. Louis where he sold nothing but blues and gospel music. He owned part of the old Majestic Theater in East St. Louis, but problems with his business partner cost him more than $20,000 in the deal, a financial debacle from which he says he's never quite recovered.

" The first mistake I made was opening the thing up with a convicted felon, Gabriel says. He couldn't get a license, so I put up all the money for it. The thing went belly up, and they're still sending me bills. Now that place is on the registry of historic buildings. Who was the idiot there? Poor, dumb me. "

St. Louis Radio Hall of Fame :

 Gabriel was a personality on WOKZ in Alton, IL., in 1952, mixing blues and R&B with hillbilly records, jazz and the old standards.
     His next stop was WTMV in East St. Louis where he did live remotes, moving across the river to KATZ where he started doing fill-in work for vacationing deejays. When PD Dave Dixon went on vacation, he asked Gabriel to take over his many remotes.
     Gabriel was then hired to do the Sunday gospel shows on KATZ, which led to a full-time slot from 7:30 - 9:00 each night, for which he won the St. Louis Sentinel's award for Best Radio Personality. He later took the 1 - 6 a.m. slot from the late 1950s until 1969.   Then it was on to a year-long Sunday night stint on the market's most eclectic radio station, KDNA, which was supported solely by listener contributions.
     He left the market briefly from 1973-1976, returning to a job at WESL. He ended up doing a weekly show on KDHX in 1989 on which he re-created the programs he had done in the 60s. In 1999 he won the Riverfront Times award as the Top St. Louis Radio Personality.
     Gabriel produced and recorded some R&B and blues classics, including the first 45 by Tina Turner, which was recorded in Ike Turner's living room and kitchen on Virginia Place in East St. Louis in the late 50s. At various times he also ran a couple record stores, a theater featuring live music acts and a nightclub.


He only plays music out of his own collection. While KDHX has a large and varied music library, it pales in comparison to Gabriel's, which dates back to the 1920s and includes approximately 50,000 records, tapes and CDs.

During breaks, the portly man rolls up the sleeves of his blue and black flannel shirt and shuffles over to the suitcases, the cuffs of his faded black denim pants stopping at the tops of his dusty wingtips with worn soft rubber soles.

He flips through his tapes looking for some song that probably only he could remember. Gabriel has spent the better part of the past three years transferring his old vinyl sides to the computer so he can burn them onto CDs, which are easier for him to carry.

Back in the day, I would have four or five of those suitcases filled up with 45's, 78's and everything you can imagine, Gabriel says. That was like movin' your whole house.

This suitcase DJ system has been with Gabriel as long as he's been on the air. And he's been on the air a long, long time.

Jim O'Neal, owner of Stackhouse Records has been working on a Gabriel collection for over a decade, hunting-down original 45s, 78s and acetates from all over the collector’s market  (from a now defunct website,  :

 Jim O’Neal’s Stackhouse label will be releasing the much-anticipated compilation on the legendary The Flock Rocker (a.k.a. Gabriel & His Trumpet) who had over a dozen releases on the Planet, Norman, Tempora 500 and Royal American labels, all out of St. Louis/East St. Louis.   What’s really special about these recordings is that various members of Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm do backing along with the super-hot Bennie Smith on guitar. Jim has been working on this collection for over a decade, hunting-down original 45s, 78s and acetates from all over the Collector’s market.    
 Jim O'Neal made a mention of the scheduled release on his blog (November 6, 2009) here :
 Next Stackhouse release is the long-awaited compilation of 1950s and ‘60s sides by East St. Louis DJ, singer, and trumpet player Gabriel (he has a last name but doesn’t think you or the IRS need to know it) –- rocking, sometimes zany stuff including snippets from his radio shows and tracks with the great Bennie Smith on guitar. Gabriel still broadcasts every Sunday night at midnight on KDHX – check out his show at

But I can't find any evidence that the compilation was ever released.  And Stackhouse Records seems to be inactive now

 Flock-Rocker discography
 (scanned from the Mike Leadbitter and Neil Slaven Blues discography)

Mitchel Hearns recorded as The Flock-Rocker,  Gabriel,   Gabrel, his trumpet and Band of Angels,  and Gabriel & the Angels.

Not to be confused with the Gabriel and the Angels on April, Amy and Swan  :
 Gabriel and the Angels was the remnants of the FIVE SHARPS. A very popular combo consisting of Rick Kellis (Gabriel) on SAX, etc., Ed Badyna on Trumpet and Valve Trombone, Frank Pizzutello on Bass and Accordian, Rick Magee on Guitar, Larry Costanzo on Drums. Rick Kellis replaced the Original SAX man Joe Mariano who is also retired from the Insurance business. The FIVE SHARPS were very well known around N.J,PA,DE, and N.Y. Especially the Shore Points and Universities.

Sources, ressources

  • DJ Gabriel embodies the St. Louis blues, article by Daniel P. Finney Of the Post-Dispatch 11/06/2004
  •  Flock-Rocker discography (see pic above) : Blues Records 1943-1970: Volume 1 A-K by Mike Leadbitter and Neil Slaven

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mike Mitchell and the Play Boys on Bango

Mike Mitchell and the Play Boys

8859 - Josephine   (Vocal Ernie Greene)
Gus. Kahn and Wayne King, Leo Feist Pub. ASCAP
8860 - Playboy Boogie Twist (instrumental)   sample
E.C. Mitchell, Blair's Music BMI

Bango 502


1906 Clements Street
Detroit 38, Mich.

Not much is known about the owners of Bango Records, Clarence .L. Blair and Rose E. Blair.    They had certainly some kind of Philadelphia connection as several acts issued on their other label, Fine Arts, were from the City of Brotherly Love.

Mr Blair was probably born around 1900 : "I've Got The Blues To-Day" is one of the first song copyrighted by Clarence Blair (1923, Detroit).

Here I Go, Where the Morning Glories Grow", another of his composition, was copyrighted in 1938 (his address is then Philadelphia).   "Here I Go" was recorded in 1950 on Gotham Records, a Philadelphia label, by Roland Burton, a former Lionel Hampton balladeer.     The copyright for this song was renewed in 1952 with the name of Rose Blair then added.