Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Buddy Holly's Nashville Sessions


Ollie Vee, he come from Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee. But Buddy Holly, he come from Lubbock, Texas, home of country western radio station KDAV, where announcer Hipockets Duncan helped Buddy and his early sidekick, guitarist Bob Montgomery, get a regular slot on the Sunday Party live show. Here Buddy and Bob’s popularity grew, and they eventually got a spot opening for Bill Haley when he passed through town. Bigshot Nashville promoter Eddie Crandall heard them that night in 1955, and, like Hipockets before him, also got interested. Crandall got KDAV to cut a few demos, then he arranged a recording contract with Decca for... er, well, for Buddy only. It seems that Decca, in their scramble to find their own Elvis, was only interested in solo Rock 'n' Roll acts. So no Delmore Brothers, Louvin Brothers, Santos & Johnnies, or Johnnies & Jonies for Decca Records. But they did let Buddy record with a crack Rockabilly outfit that included guitarist Sonny Curtis, who wrote “Rock Around with Ollie Vee,” bassist Don Guess, who wrote the great “Modern Don Juan,” and guitarist Grady Martin.


So we’re still talkin’ pre-Crickets here on these songs, which were all recorded in Nashville, in three separate sessions, way back in 1956. Owen Bradley even produced one of the sessions, demonstrating once again that, despite being one of two main architects of countrypolitan shmaltz, he knew how to make a good Rock’n’Roll record, having also produced the earliest sides by the Johnny Burnette Trio, and I suspect possibly those by Donny “Soon to Become Johnny Paycheck” Young. Most of these songs were originally released as Decca singles (although today they come to you by way of MCA LP Buddy Holly The Nashville Sessions, released in 1975), failed to chart. The record company grew restless, and thus began Buddy Holly's fabled departure from Decca. Less than a year later he broke big with "That'll Be the Day." Boy o boy, Decca probably sure wished it had held its mud for a few more months.

And while Bradley was demonstrating all that R’n’R producer prowess, Buddy Holly showed us how gone for the girls he was. Besides the aforementioned “Modern Don Juan,” hear him pant and pine convincingly enough on “Love Me” and “Ting-A-Ling.” Young and free is a real fine thing to be, but, alas, love ain’t free. It left Buddy to sing with equal aplomb about “The Midnight Shift” and “Blue Days – Black Nights” as well.

4 comments:

Gene Casey said...

Actually Owen Bradley did not produce the "earliest" Johnny Burnette and R&R Trio sessions as those were done months earlier in NYC. Bradley did the Nashville sessions mid-1956 into 57, and those yielded most of the songs the so-called Rock & Roll Trio is known for (featuring Grady Martin on lead guitar).

Bob Pomeroy said...

Factoid duly entered into the GS log book, my man.

Gene Casey said...

Owen Bradley wisely let Buddy's man Sonny Curtis play some of the guitar solos ("Ollie Vee" for instance has a version with Sonny and one with Grady Martin on lead)and Sonny BURNS! One of the most UNSUNG figures in country & rockabilly history. If only for his picking, (which Waylon Jennings idolized) featured on these sessions. Thanks for posting.

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