Forgotten Sessions ©1999-JCMarion
Parkway Records - Parkway Records was established in February of 1950 by noted Midwestern record distributor Monroe Passis. The label immediately signs two local Chicago blues artists, Little Walter and Baby Face Leroy and his Trio. In April the label also signs vocal - instrumental combo The Rhythm Rockers. The first record released is #501 by Baby Face Leroy : "Rollin' and Tumblin' "(parts one and two). In May this is followed by #502 - "I Just Keep Loving Her" / "Moonshine Blues". The original Parkway record has the tunes credited to Little Walter & His Trio, but the recording is actually by Baby Face Leroy. The next Parkway record is surprisingly numbered #104, and again it is by Baby Face Leroy : "Boll Weevil" / "Red Headed Woman". Little Walter actually recorded two songs for Parkway - "Muscadine Blues" and "Bad Acting Woman". The masters were bought by Regal before they were ever released by Parkway, and were on Regal #3296. Evidently at this time Passis decided to concentrate on his record distribution business and ceased operation of the Parkway Record Company. (This label had no connection with the Philadelphia based label in the late 50s). The Little Walter information was documented in the book "Blues Records - 1943-1966" by Mike Leadbitter and Neil Slaven (Oak Publications).
Wheeler Records - This label was owned and operated by Harriett Wheeler in New York City and began operations in December of 1951. The head A & R man was the well regarded Leroy Kirkland who most recently was with Savoy Records in Newark, N.J. Harriett Wheeler is head of the Hartwell School of Music in New York. The first issue for the label is #101 by The Tune Blenders "Bread of Heaven. The label signs Eddie Banks, Rose Marie McCoy and the George Kelly Orchestra. Release #104 is by The George Kelly Orchestra - "Danny Boy" / "I'm Gone But I'll Be Back". Well known performer Danny "Run Joe" Taylor recorded Wheeler #105 pairing "Coffee Daddy Blues" with "Come On Home". In July long time blues singer Alberta Hunter was added to the label's roster. Towards the end of the year, Bob Houston recorded "It's Christmas Every Day" and "This Is The Real Thing" which was released on Wheeler with the record number #100 (possibly recorded a year earlier). Further details on releases are sketchy, but it is known that the last issue was #110 in August of 1952.
Fidelity Records - This label was taken over by Art Rupe, and was operated as a subsidiary label of Specialty. In late November of 1951, the first three releases on the label are in record shops on the West Coast. #3000 is by Joe Turner - "Life Is Like A Card Game" / "When The Rooster Crows". #3001 is by the vocal group The Hollywood Four Flames : "Tabarin" / "W-I-N-E". and the third issue is a gospel recording numbered #2001 by Reuben Henry which pairs "Lord I Want To Be There" and "Stay In Touch With Jesus". Rupe decides that if the label is a success with its initial Rhythm and Blues sides, it will branch out into the Country and Pop fields. The following year sees a number of recordings released during the first half of 1952. #3002 is Sherman Williams "The Bounce" (parts one and two); #3003 is by Herman Manzy and is "I'm Your Rockin' Man" / "Back To The Blues". Record #3004 is by long time blues performer Bumble Bee Slim (Amos Easton) "Ida Red" / "Lonesome Old Feelin'". JoJo Jackson recorded Fidelity #3005 "Boogie In The Groove" and "Jumpin' and Stompin' ". Release #3006 was by another long established blues performer, Smokey Hogg - "Crawdad" and "Born On The 13th". In late 1952 two more Fidelity releases were forthcoming, and like all the rest there was not sufficient interest by the record buying public to justify continuing the label. Fidelity #3008 by Pete McKinley "Mean Black Snake" / "Crying For My baby" and #3009 by Clarence London "Going Back To Mama" / "One Rainy Morning". By early in 1953 Fidelity became an inactive label with Rupe building Specialty into a major independent R & B label for all time.
Hi-Lo Records - Hi-Lo was owned by Ned Gravely and Sam Meltzer. It was another attempt to enter the market as an independent record label in the R & B and Gospel field which in 1953 was almost entirely geared to the Black population of the country. The first record released for the label was a gospel recording by Rev. William Morris O'Neill - "He Is My Light" / "He'll Never Let Go My Hand". Originally this was Hi-Lo #307, but was re-numbered as #1401. The second release for the label, #1402, was by the surprisingly named (even for 1953) Chocolate Williams & His Chocolateers - "Good Story Blues" / "Lady Ginger Snap". The band returned for #1403, this time with Herbert Nichols doing the vocals on "S'Wonderful" and "Whose Blues". Hi-Lo #1404 was by Deborah Robinson singing "Please Don't Blame Me" and "She's Funny That Way". Milton Jackson did two tunes featuring his vibraphone playing - "Heart and Soul" and "Love Me Pretty Baby" on Hi-Lo #1405. (As Milt Jackson he would soon receive world wide renown as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet for more than three decades). Another future jazz star recorded for the label - Ike Quebec with the Kansas Fields Quartette recorded "Kiss Of Fire" and "Whispering Winds" on #1406. "Rippin' and Runnin' " and "Look What 'Cha Done" by Emmit Davis was #1407 and #1408 featured the Rev. William Morris O'Neill on "At The Cross" and "The Old Landmark". He returned for the next release for Hi-Lo "I'm A Witness" and "I'm Bound For The Promised Land". Another gospel recording was the next offering from the label - The Silver Stars recorded "Come Over Here" and "Pack Up, Get Ready To Go" on Hi-Lo #1411. Eddie Jefferson recorded two records in May of 1953 - "Body And Soul" and "I Got The Blues" and "Honeysuckle Rose" and "The Birdland Story" as #1413 and #1416. The Rev. O'Neill was on release #1418 "Stand By Me" / "My Expectations" and Ardel Carl, a new singer recorded #1419 "My Mother's Eyes" and "Morning Blues" There was one more release for the Hi-Lo label, and then Gravely and Meltzer called it a day as the label's records did not generate the sales or airplay needed to stay as a viable R & B and Gospel label. June of 1953 was the final chapter for Hi-Lo Records.
Acorn Records - The short history of Acorn Records proves the point that even the big boys of the independents in the early fifties did not have a lock on success. The label was formed in October of 1950 by Herman Lubinsky of Savoy Records. Artists that are immediately signed to the label are Erroll Garner, Little Jimmy (Scott), Hal Singer, and Sir Charles Thompson. Sounds like a sure thing with the backing of an established label and a small but impressive roster of artists, doesn't it? However in the blink of an eye the whole idea of Acorn Records does an about face. The label is folded and the artists are free to make other recording deals or be absorbed into the Savoy fold. There are a few surviving releases for the label, by blues artist Carolina Slim (Ed Harris). Acorn #319-"Come Back Baby" / "Pleading Blues", #320 - "Mama's Blues" / "Black Chariot", #323 - "Worry You Off My Mind" / "Blues Knocking At My Door" and #324 - "Rag Mama" / "I'll Get Along Somehow" (which Ruth Brown would have a huge hit on Atlantic with).
Lloyds Records - Here is another new offshoot independent label that evolved from a successful parent, in this case Apollo Records. Bess Berman the president of Apollo decided to start the new outlet for R & B music in June of 1953. The very first release for the label is Lloyd's #101 by The Jumping jacks - "Why Oh Why" / "Don't Let That Dream Come True". It is followed by The Four Vagabonds, a group that had been around since the mid nineteen thirties. They were giving it one more shot and the result is Lloyd's #102 - "P.S. I Love You" (a cover of the Hilltoppers on Dot) / "Lazy Country Side". All time Gospel music superstar Mahalia Jackson long a fixture on Apollo, did her turn for the new subsidiary label with "I Believe" and "Consider Me" on #103. Lee Richardson recorded "I Had To Live And Learn" and "Don't Take Your Love From Me" on #104. Mahalia returned with #105 "My Cathedral" and "No Matter How You Pray". In late May of 1954, Berman gets the idea to turn the Lloyd's label into a pop music entity as she notes the successes of The Chords "Sh-Boom" and The Crows "Gee" with the growing number of White teenagers now attracted to the music. Apollo's main focus of this new strategy would be a reformed vocal group that was one of that label's great recording stars of earlier years, The Larks. However this strategy would become flawed as the tastes of the record buying public for vocal group sounds would favor a new, heavier more rhythmic style as personified by The Penguins and the Moonglows, rather than the older more established groups such as The Ravens, Orioles, and Larks. Two Larks efforts to capture the pop music audience failed miserably - #110 - "Tippin' In" / "If That's A Crime" and #114 - "Forget It"/ "Os-Ca-Lus-Ski-Oh". These failures and some health concerns of Bess Berman led to the end of the short history of the Lloyds record label.
Star Talent - This dimly remembered label was located in Dallas, Texas, and run by the Erickson family. There is very little information available about the label but for two releases in 1950 by important R & B artists that went on to fame elsewhere. In March of 1950 the label advertised a roster that includes Willie Lane, Hoyle Nix, Riley Crabtree, Freddie Burns, Johnnie Bee, Cha Cha Hogan, Mae Ella Goins, Curley Sanders, Buster Doss, Ben Hall, Cousin Abner, Gene O'Quinn, and Snuffy Smith. This is certainly not a list of names that would make anyone's R & B Who's Who, but this was most decidedly a good cross section of northern Texas R & B talent in the early fifties. The two Star Talent releases that got the most attention were #807 by Rufus Thomas (before becoming so readily identified with Memphis radio station WDIA and his epic answer record "Bear Cat") - "I'm So Worried" / "I'll Be A Good Boy". The other release was #809 by Professor Longhair (identified so closely with the New Orleans music scene) - "She Ain't Got No Hair" and "Bye Bye Baby". As far as can be determined, Star talent records did not last beyond mid 1950 as a R & B label, but may have released some gospel music sides into early 1951.
Note Records - Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, this label burst on the scene in late 1956 with three releases. Note #2000 was by The Counts who had been a successful vocal group for two years via their records on Dot were now in eclipse and they recorded "Sweet Names" and "I Brought It On Myself". The Cohorts recorded #2001 - "The Country Blues" / "Flippin' And Floppin'", and the final side for the end of 1956 was by The Krazy Kats - "Tuxedo Junction" and "Travellin' Light".Thanks to reader and music researcher Del Halterman the following Note label releases followed beginning in in late 1957 - 10008 - "St. Louis Blues " / "Monastery Gardens; #10009 - "Cry baby Cry" and "I'm So Lonely" by The Denhams; #10010 - "Don't You Hear Me Calling Baby" / "Traveler of Love" by Ronnie Haig; #10011 - "Pickin On The Wrong Chicken" and "Dreaming" by The 5 Stars (possibly the same group that recorded "Ooh Shucks") #10012 - The first release of "I'm So Young" and "Every Day Of The Week" by The Students; #10013 - "Wazoo" and "Shuffle Stroll" byJimmy Coe & The Cohorts; #10014 - "Rockin With Rhythm & Blues" and "Money Is A Thing Of The Past" by Ronnie Haig; #10015 - "Night Theme" and "Smorgasbord" by The Three Souls; #10016 - "My Paradise" and "Friction" by The 5 Stars; #10018 - "Dirty White Bucks" and "Never Baby Never" by Jerry Siefert; #10019 - "My Vow To You" / "That's How I Feel" by The Students; #10020 - "Ebb Tide" and "Night Scene" by The Three Souls; #10021 - "Sugaree" / "Red Rooster" by Rusty York; and the final release numbered #10031 - "Gambling Man" and "Am I Wasting My Time" by The 5 Stars. By late 1960, Note Records became an afterthought in the history of the music of the nineteen fifties.
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