You are absolutely right!
I should have included this link in Session Six when I mentioned Harry Middlebrooks and his Grits.
Harry later used that Piano Red feel and technique on a song I recorded in the 70s (I Feel More Like I Do Now).
One of the things I had a tough time with in the very early days was to accept, learn and deliver believable performances of newly written songs. When you start out it is pretty natural to just copy the current hit tunes. But if you want to make it in this business you have got to have original material. Then, no matter who writes it, you have to make it your own.
My first bona-fide recording session came for King Records in the Spring of 1956. Jim and Ken and I went to Dallas to the storied Jim Beck Studio. We were all nervous as hell. We arrived at the studio about 2 hours ahead of time. Country star Sonny James was in a session ahead of us.
Sonny took a break a bit prior to our session. We were introduced and someone told him it was my first session. He immediately sent one of his guys to tell the engineers that he was rescheduling his work to another day and that that the guys and I should start on time. It was an impressive gesture to me. I appreciated it and, even more, struck up a friendship with Sonny that would last for many years. He’ll be in the Book.
Oh yeah…there are some good guys in the entertainment business. I have had the honor to be associated with a great number of them. Surely you’re not surprised that I’m writing a Book…are you???
So…we got in the studio. What do I do now?
King Records Producer Ralph Bass took command and after 3 hours we had sailed through 4 songs (typical for sessions in those days). Honestly, I didn’t have a clue how to approach the tunes. As fate would have it the session itself dictated the direction.
The line up was: Me, the singer and rhythm guitarist (I plunked at the chords). Jim played lead guitar and Ken played slap bass. In his infinite wisdom, Producer Bass had hired some professional session musicians including pianist Bill Simmons and drummer Bill Peck. I just followed my instincts and sang ‘em like I felt ‘em.
In the end King Records Vice-President Bernie Pearlman summoned us up to the Control Room to hear the playbacks. I will never forget that he had Elvis Presley’s latest album on a turntable to compare it to our work.
He said, “We felt we needed an Elvis Presley type performer. Today, we think we have something different…and better.”
Sometimes stuff just happens!!
The songs were: If I Had Me A Woman, Just So You Call Me, Half Hearted Love and Grandaddy’s Rockin’. Over the years I have come to realize what happened was that we were trying to come up to the Pro players. And. They were trying to reach down to us. The outcome has proven to be a definitive event. Not by me, or us, but of the Rockabilly fans, record buyers and concert goers around the world. For that, we are all grateful.
Follow your instincts and…
Keep on Rockin
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