Herb Fisher, Big Duke Henderson, & Rene Hall ©2000JCMarion


Herb Fisher, a singer and pianist, records "I'm Yours To Keep" and "This Is My Story" for Modern Records on #753 in the spring of 1950. The record does well immediately in the San Francisco area and over a few weeks begins to sell in the East especially in Philadelphia and New York. Soon Modern's followupon #755 is released. This record pairs "They'll Be There" and "People Have Money" and is listed as by the Herb Fisher Trio. In September of the year, Fisher will headline a show in Los Angeles that will also feature Percy Mayfield, Mickey Champion, and Johnny Crawford. Modern #753 ("I'm Yours To Keep") continues to place on the national Rhythm & Blues best sellers charts. In October Modern Records announces that they will soon issue their very first LP album and it will feature songs by Jimmy Witherspoon and Herb Fisher. In November Herb appears with Mickey Champion and jack McVea's band on Central Avenue in L.A. At the end of the year Modern releases #784 - "Too Many Fish In The Sea" and "Don't Take Me Away".

In the spring of 1951 "Doggone Shame" and "Don't Want Nobody Else" appear on Modern #810. Fisher continues to look for the elusive followup to "I'm Yours" without much success. Modern #823 follows - "Wine Wine Wine" and "Baby Please Don't Cry", and the story is the same. By now Modern Records was ready to let Fisher go, and after a bit of time he was signed to crosstown Imperial Records. His first record for the new label are issued in early 1952. Imperial #5182 features "I'll Wait For You" and "Ride Ride Ride". It goes nowhere as does #6246 - "Crying In My Sleep" and "You Don't Live But Once". This is apparently the end of the line for Fisher as he could not duplicate the success of his first record for Modern.


'Studs' Henderson records for London records as they try to hit it big in the R & B field. He soon changes his name to 'Big Duke'. He was from Kansas City and had recently recorded for the Excelsior label and received recognition for his recording of "Leona's Boogie". He also gained credit as a writer most notably for "My Lovin Papa" a recorded hit for Dinah Washingtonon the Apollo label. Henderson started out with the band of Tommy Douglas, and then in 1949 joined the King Perry Combo. He is now a solo performer and his record of "Lonely And Blue" for London #17004 is doing well especially in the Midwest. In May of 1950 London releases #17011 - "Rock Me In Your Chair" and "Situation Blues". Duke appears with the Monroe Tucker Orchestra at the annual benefit show held by the Los Angeles Sentinel at the Lincoln Center. At the end of the year Duke moves to Imperial Records and will record with the Monroe Tucker band.

In early 1951 Duke Henderson does a session for Imperial. The tunes are Henderson's own "Ten Days Of Agony" and "Kin Folks" and "Let Me Live My Own Life". Later that year Duke plays a Hunter Hancock "Midnight Matinee" R & B show at the Olympic Theater. He is also on the bill at the big R & B Jubilee at L.A.'s Orpheum Theater with Big Jay McNeely, Three Dots & A Dash,and many others. Imperial shows no interest and Duke now moves to Dootone where nothing happens to further his career as a recording artist.

Although Duke Henderson does in person appearances at a number of venues in and around Los Angeles, his recording dates are very sporadic in the following years. In 1952 he recorded for Specialty records on #442 - "Country Girl" . "Lucy Brown", and a year later he was on the Flair label with a topical R & B song about the recently released Kinsey Report called "Hey Doctor Kinsey". The flip side was "Hello Baby". This was the last record that appeared by Henderson.


In January of 1950, Rene Hall leads his sextet on Jubilee #5015 - "Chitlin' Switch". The record receives airplay immediately and has a good sales run initially. Getting a followup record out quickly, Jubilee releases "Rene's Boogie" and "Blowing Awhile" on #5020. After the records have run their course, hallleaves Jubilee and moves to the new independent label Domino Records. He is given the position of arranger and musical director for the new company. The first record out is "I've Got A Right To Be Blue" and "Be Sure" by former Earl Hines vocalist Madeline Green with The Magichords. The record does not do well and in a short time the Domino label is gone.

The next year finds Hall and his combo on the Decca label. They record "Summertime Blues" (surely not the Eddie Cochrane classic), and "My Kind Of Rockin'" as by the Rene Hall Trio. 1952 finds Rene Hall as a solo vocalist with RCA Victor on "Peace Of Mind" and "Do It Up Right" on #5046. By 1953 the Rene Hall combo is now a quintet and they are doing great business as the featured musical attraction at Philadelphia's Powelton Cafe. In April of 1953 RCA Victor releases #5274 pairing "Voodoo Man" and "I've Seen Better Days" with vocal by Courtland Carter. In Ohio during the summer, Rene Hall leads the band at Moondog's 2nd Anniversary Dance which headlines The Dominos and is a huge draw in Youngstown and Akron. By year'send RCA releases "Two Guitar Boogie" and "Don't Take Me For A Fool" with vocal by Courtland Carter.

Hall keeps the music flowing during the mid fifties. He winds up on Specialty Records and by 1958 he has produced a contemporary sound and has some success with Specialty #618 - "Twitchy" and the flip sode called "Flippin'". By springof 1958 Specialty released #629 - "Thunderbird" and the old standard dressed up in new R & B clothes, "When The Saints Go Marching In". One more oldie done up late fifties style was released by Specialty around Labor Day of the year with "Frankie & Johnny" and the flip was"Cleo". In June of 1959 Rendezvous Records releases "Moritat" and "Adalene" on #107. Late in the year, this time on the Arvee label "South Gate" and the interestingly named "Smitty's Toy Piano" are released on #580. Rene Hall soon faded from the from the R & B scene as a name performer, but is remembered as one more player on the scene.

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