Thursday, November 24, 2011

Goldband Records: The Early Years (UPDATE)


Eddie Shuler outside of Goldband Studio, 2001.

Note: This is a revised, expanded, and corrected version of the original article (date of update: Nov. 29, 2011).

For most people, the history of Goldband either begins with Iry LeJeune's arrival around 1948, or Al Ferrier's seven years later. The murky early days of the label have always been the least documented. Goldband initially served mostly as a vanity label for Eddie Shuler and his western band, the Reveliers -- an excellent group that went toe-to-toe with Cliff Bruner, Leo Soileau, Harry Choates, the Hackberry Ramblers, and the other top Gulf Coast swing bands of the time. Many of Eddie's singles are solid western swing, Cajun, and country efforts comparable to anything else coming out in those genres at the time. A comprehensive reissue CD is overdue.

There has been a great deal of confusion about when Shuler started Goldband. The earliest print reference to the label was in Billboard in January, 1948; the first Goldband single to be reviewed there was "I Never Want a Sweetheart" in November, 1950 (his 11th release). Clearly Billboard is of no help to us. But even an expert like John Broven has been confused about this, stating in his book South to Louisiana that Eddie brought out the Folk-Star label first, in 1949, and Goldband a little later. This is certainly incorrect, but Shuler himself probably led Broven to believe this, since most of his early releases were poor sellers that no one noticed at the time, and later collectors never asked about. Alain "Ding Dong" Pourquier wrote matter of factly in the notes to the Charly Goldband reissues of the late 1980s that Shuler first recorded in December, 1944 and that the record was issued in January of the new year. This is closer to the actual date, but still contentious. Shuler states in the interview below that he was still playing with the Hackberry Ramblers at the close of World War II, not starting his own band and recording until late 1945. This seems more probable, though definitive proof from a contemporary source continues to elude us. Regardless, it was probably the first independent label to open shop in Louisiana. Folk-Star came along later, about 1948-49.

Most of the early sessions were recorded at either KPLC or KAOK radio stations in Lake Charles. Eddie also intimates that he cut some sessions at his first music store at 830 Broad Street ("I cut a lot of records in the back of that building"), though it isn't clear if these were demos or final masters. He moved into an abandoned church at 313 Church Street sometime around 1952 and it was at this location where most of the Goldband sessions remembered today were cut.

Eddie Shuler was a friendly, approachable man who always had time to talk to enthusiasts about the old days. Though occasionally prone to exaggeration, his memory remained sharp right up to the end. My goal with this interview was to focus as much as possible on the 1945-1955 period, and try to draw out more details on his band leading days, who played in his bands, etc. I only half-succeeded in this, because I had a highly incomplete discography to go by, and virtually none of the original music to play for him. Now, thanks to Al Turner and Dave Sax, I have both of those things, but Eddie is no longer around to ask, having died in 2005. Such is life.

This interview was recorded on April 10, 2001.


Eddie, you were born in Wrightsboro, Texas...where is that?
It’s about 70 miles east of San Antonio...kind of southeast of San Antonio. I lived there ‘til I was 7 years old, then we moved, and then we just constantly moved from there on out until we wound up in Luling.I spent most of my teen years there. And from there we moved to Dallas. And that’s...’course, all my life, I’ve written songs. But in Dallas, I got involved in the construction business -- dragline operator. I saw them things, and I thought, well, that’s the only thing I want to do. Run one of them things, y’know. I did that until I got old enough to chase the girls. And then I found out there was something better than dragline: girls. (Laughs)

Now, I didn’t get your date of birth.
March 27, 1913.

So you were in Dallas from, say, the early thirties until the early forties, or --
I was there ‘til 1941.

You mentioned that you started writing songs while in Dallas. Did you have any interest in bands during that period...
No, I never did want to be a musician. My brother played in a band. They made three dollars a night, and I said, My god, to work all that time, just to stand up there to play an instrument and sing, that’s crazy, I ain’t about to do nothing like that.

Did he play in a string band, or --
Yeah, he played in a string band.

Did you see any of the big groups in that area play, like the Light Crust Doughboys?
No. Well, I saw ‘em, but it was always at a distance. Milton Brown and the Musical Brownies, that was one of my idols there.

Did you see them play?
Yeah. That was really a treat. That was somewhere south of Fort Worth, I don’t know just exactly where. It was in that region, anyway. The music was terrific, y’know. Now, I really liked that stuff. (Laughs) I thought that was the stuff, y’know?

And then, of course, I like orchestras too, liked a lot of orchestra music. But the kind of songs I liked...there was a thing called “Intermezzo,” and ‘course “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and all that kind of stuff –

Pop music.
Pop music...I was in love with that stuff too. I just liked everything. There was nothing I don’t think I didn’t like, as long as it was musical. Like I said, I wrote songs, and always dreamed of someday getting my songs recorded by somebody.

Now, while you were in Dallas, did you try promoting your songs, or pitching them to any bands or musicians?
No, because I couldn’t play no kind of instrument, and I thought that was kind of stupid, to get up there and sing when you don’t play no kind of an instrument...I had enough sense to understand that part of it.

So you hadn’t even started playing guitar at this point?
No. I never started playing guitar ‘til I moved to Louisiana from Fort Worth.

So, you moved from Dallas to Fort Worth, and then Louisiana. What prompted the move to Lake Charles?
Defense work. I got into the union business. I was a dragline and crane operator, so that gave me special status. I came into Lake Charles because they was building all these plants here.

Now, was this 1941 or ‘42? Because John Broven’s book (South to Louisiana) cites the year as ‘42.
That was ‘41. I started in the music business in 1944. At that point in time, that was after my stint with the Hackberry Ramblers, I decided that I’d make a record. So I went to New Orleans, found a studio down there. The guy (was) upstairs on Canal Street there, the place is still there but it’s changed names about 50 times I guess. But I went up there, cut my record in that place.



Eddie inside the Goldband control room circa late 1960s, holding a copy of Guitar Junior's "Family Rules." Note the Ampex 350 in the foreground.


That wasn’t Cosimo’s Studio, was it?
Oh, that was way before Cosimo.

Actually, I think he started in about ‘46.
He did, huh?

Yeah. But it was prior to him?
Oh, yeah. (Note: This may have been the National Radio Recording Studio, in the Godchaux Building on Canal Street.)

So that’s where you made Broken Love/Is There Room In Your Heart For Me Darlin’?
Yes.

Do you recall who was playing on that? Who was in the original Reveliers?
Had a guy named Johnny Babb...Johnny Porter...and a fellow named Johnny Reems, I believe was his name. He was the saxophone player. Johnny Porter was a fiddle player, but he was one of those super violin players. I mean, that cat could play some violin. But them people, they sort of turned me off a little bit, because after you got through playing the job, they’d all go out, booze it up and jam ‘til 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning. Then they’d go sleep a couple of hours, and then start all over again. I said, well, hell, that’s not to my interest at all...

You still had your day job as a dragline operator...you couldn’t keep those kind of hours.
No.

Now, before we continue with that, let’s talk a little about the Hackberry Ramblers. How did you become involved with them?
Well, they decided...I was working in this music store to help pay off my guitar. I made $3.37 an hour for the dragline operating, which was quite a bit of money, because laborers made 50 cents an hour. They had a record cutting machine (at this store) so they could cut an acetate. I learned how to run it.

So, the Hackberry Ramblers...I rode to work with ‘em. That was the ironic part. You’d only get so much gas a week, so we’d have to change cars every other day, get in somebody else’s car...so that’s how I wound up riding with them one of the days.



The Hackberry Ramblers with Eddie, c. 1944.


So you knew them from your day job?
Yeah. So they started talking about re-grouping, and going back and making some more music.

They had broken up prior to that.
Oh, yeah. They’d been out of business, oh, I’d say about four years. And so, I said, "Well, I’d like to cut a disc on y’all." And they said, well, we’ve been wanting to do that. I said, well, I can do that. So after we got involved with that, I said "I write songs," and of course I’m taking guitar lessons at that point in time...I’m not good at it, I’m taking lessons, though. I’d go to a music teacher, and she sits there and clinks, clinks, clinks all day long, and I still don’t know more when I left than I did when I started.

But I told them, I’d like for you to learn a couple of my songs, and then we can cut them on a disc. They said, why sure...while we’re practicing, we’ll learn yours, and then you can make a record for us, and not charge us as much for cuttin’ our acetate. I said, that’s right.

So, that’s what was going on. That worked for three weeks, but he (the Hackberry Ramblers’ singer) never did know any of the songs. Well, since this was a music store I was working in -- it was the only one in town -- they had all the records. So, I had learned all those songs, ‘cause I was just one of those kind of people...

You worked at this music store part time?
Yeah. After hours.

What was the name?
Johnson’s Music Store. 1400 block of Ryan.

I read in one of your interviews that you opened your own music store with a $250 loan from your mother.
Yes. Well, see, this fella Johnson got drafted. He turned his business over to me. But unknown to me, his wife was an alcoholic. After he left, all of this started coming to the surface. She started taking all the money out of the bank, I couldn’t get none of the stuff I was buying to put back on the shelf...I said, man, this ain’t gonna work. So I got in touch with him in the service, and I told him, "You’re gonna have to do something, because I can’t help you with this place, with your woman taking all of the money, I can’t run it." He said, well, I’m gonna go to my lawyer, and we’re gonna fix it up so you’ll be running it, and you can dole out the money to her. Man, did she ever hate my guts. (Laughter) She finally disappeared into the woodwork with somebody.

So you more or less just took over managing the store?
Oh, yeah. The funny part about it, they’d come in there and ask for things, and I’d tell ‘em we’d sold out. And then I’d run grab the catalogue after they left, and look it up to see what it was.

One guy come in one day and said, "I want a trumpet mute." I said, "We don’t have any more, but we got some on order." He said, "You’re standing right over a whole showcase full of them things." I said, "Oh, that’s what that thing is." (Laughter) I learned what a mute was.

(Note: The 1945 Lake Charles City Directory lists Johnson's Music Store with "E.W. Shuler, Mgr.")

So the store sold instruments as well as records?
Yeah. Pianos...he (the owner) showed me how to sell a piano before he left. And I got so good at the piano business I’d bring ‘em in here in carloads -- used pianos. I’d go up in Minnesota and find those things out there in the woods...I had a buyer that’d buy ‘em for me. I’d put ‘em on a freight car and haul ‘em to Lake Charles, unload ‘em, sell them things...I made him a lot of money selling those pianos. That’s how I salvaged his business and brought it back to snuff.

Getting back to the Hackberry Ramblers...you recorded a disc with them.
Yeah. But the way that happened is, that singer, before he got to where...they found out that I knew all the songs and their singer didn’t know any. He said, well you sing the song and we’ll learn ‘em, then when he learns ‘em we’ll just transfer ‘em into his key. I said Okay, but I’m not a singer. They said, ‘That’s okay, just so you can sing the song...we’ve heard you, we know you can sing alright.’ So, they had me singing. Then this other guy got mad and quit, ‘cause I don’t think he wanted to sing anyway.

Who was that?
A guy named Al Peshaff. He was a good musician and a good guy, he just didn’t want to sing.

So this was recorded on a disc machine at Johnson’s Music?
Yeah. I don’t remember the names (titles). They’re still in my collection, but I never did make a record out of any of ‘em. They didn’t suit me after I learned a little more about it. I said, that’s a little bit too amateurish for me, I’ve gotta do these other things. I had all kinds of ideas, you know.

So the Hackberry Ramblers re-formed around that time.
Yeah, they re-formed, so after this guy left, they decided they was ready to go out and play, so they went and booked a job out there in Creole. And back at that time, they didn’t have no fans, and all they had over the windows was mesh wire. And the mosquitos just loved me. Fresh blood, I guess. I had all kind of trouble with them mosquitos. But we went out there to play the first job, and they had a whole bunch of gals out there. That’s when I found out there was something besides that dragline.

You were still single at this point?
Yeah. So, we went out there and played that thing, and then about three weeks later, we went back. And that time, the girls carried my guitar in there and almost carried me in there, and I said, "Wait a minute, I like this stuff." So that’s how it all started.

So, the Hackberry Ramblers at this point was Luderin Darbone, Lennis Sonnier, Edwin Duhon...
Yeah, and a guy named Boggs or something like that. He played the trumpet.

Lefty Boggs?
Yeah.

How long, approximately, would you say you worked with them? A year? Two years?
About two years, or something like that.

And this was during the war?
It was at the end of the war. It was still goin’ on, but it was winding down.

So it would’ve been 1944, ‘45...
About ‘44.

Now, did you form the All Star Reveliers during the time you played with the Hackberry Ramblers?
No. I decided I wanted to make some records, and I found out this guy out of Houston was a representative of Strauss-Frank, which sold records. RCA records, Bluebird records.

Strauss-Frank?
Yeah. That was a wholesale outfit out of Houston. And so I told him -- without telling the Hackberry Ramblers -- "We’d like to make some records. We’ve made a bunch of records for Bluebird." They’d made 47 records for Bluebird. So, he said, "Let me check it out and see if they want to record some more." ‘Cause they wasn’t recording at that time. So, he come back about two or three weeks later and said, "They really want to cut some records on y’all." I said, "I better go talk to Darbone and tell him about this," but I wanted to make some English records. Of course, all these records they’d made were French. So when I told Darbone about it, he said, "Well, the only records we’ll ever make is French." I said, "Oh?" Well, that’s a slap in the face -- he’s got me up there singing English, and he ain’t gonna make no English records, I don’t belong in this outfit.

Of course, I didn’t know the whole story. See, he’d recorded this song “Wondering” with this guy (Joe Werner), which was a monster record at that time. But this guy, well, right when it started getting real popular he quit him and formed his own band. And Darbone was turned off with English singers.




Ad for Eddie's Music House from the 1946 Lake Charles City Directory.


So, at live shows with the Hackberry Ramblers, you’d sing all the English songs and Darbone would sing the French?
No, Sonnier and Duhon would sing the French stuff.

Luderin would just play the fiddle?
That’s all he ever did.

So, you approached him about recording with Bluebird, and he said, no, I’m not going to do any English songs...
Well, ‘course, he knew what I was wanting to do, make some English records. That’s what I sang. I didn’t sing French. Now, when the French singer didn’t show up for some reason, I’d get up there and sing them French songs. I didn’t know what I was saying. Them Frenchmen would come up there and try to talk French to me...I’d just look at ‘em and grin, y’know. Man, they got mad at me ‘cause they thought I was stuck up ‘cause I didn’t want to talk to ‘em. And there wasn’t no way Darbone could tell ‘em that I couldn’t talk French and didn’t even understand it when I was singing the songs. They couldn’t believe that was anything anybody could do. But I listened to the words, and I could say ‘em just like the other guy had.

So the disagreement over recording English songs -- that’s why you left the Hackberry Ramblers?
Oh, yeah. That’s why I got away from ‘em, because he didn’t want to make no English records. I wanted to make English records -- I’d done got ambitious by that time.

So the deal with Bluebird just fell through?
Yeah. He wanted to make some French records...they probably would have done some English records, but Darbone didn’t want to do that. Anyway, we didn’t do it, and I left...give ‘em my notice and quit, went out and formed my own band, and the rest is history, y’know.

Now, were you still playing with them at the end of the war -- summer of 1945?
Yeah.

Okay. So you didn’t make your first record any earlier than the summer of 1945.
No. I made the record in the latter part of ‘45.

How did find out there was a recording studio in New Orleans?
Down at this music store, they carried The Billboard. I picked up the Billboard and looked all that stuff up. And there was one in New York, and one in New Orleans, so...we went to New Orleans.

Now, your original All-Star Reveliers was more or less a western swing type band...
Yeah. We was into the Bob Wills sound. Oh, we played French music ‘cause I had a French singer. I wasn’t crazy; I wanted that money too.

Who was the singer?
I had a couple of ‘em, but the one who stayed the longest was Norris Savoie. He sang high, higher than a woman, and he played the fiddle.

Did he record with you?
Oh yeah. He recorded “La Valse de Meche.”

So the original band included him, Johnny Porter on fiddle, Johnny Reems on sax...wasn’t Johnny Porter from Texas?
Longview, Texas. The guy was a fantastic musician. And then also in that latter part there, like into the fifties, a steel guitar came along...I had a steel guitar player but he wasn’t all that great. This guy was out of Alabama. Come to find out, he had just left Hank Williams over there...

Oh, Jimmie Webster.
Jimmie Webster, and then he came over here to play with me. I kept him until he decided to go to California. The guy was a fantastic singer -- along with being a good steel guitar player. But he got killed in a car wreck out there.

Is Webster playing on any of your recordings?
I don’t believe so.

Who did he replace, Pee Wee Lyons?
No, he replaced another guy, but I can’t remember his name.

So, the All-Star Reveliers started up in late 1945.
Yeah.



The first Goldband release, probably from 1945.
Why did you begin your numbering system at 1011?
I don’t know. That’s just a number I decided was a good one.

How did you come up with the name Goldband?
Well, I wanted a record that would attract attention. Goldband, that’s like the ring on your finger, and they can relate to that. That’s who we’re gonna be...we’re gonna have music on these records that’s gonna be gold. You know, I’m really ambitious. (Laughter) I’m thinking from a commercial standpoint, too, but I didn’t know at that time anything about no commercial stuff -- I’m just thinking how the public would view it, y’know.

Do you recall where that record was pressed?
Yeah, I pressed it in New York. The worst part about it, the guy that cut the record (master) up there in New York, he cut the tail end of the record off. You know the ‘stop’ part of it, where the music would go to the ending?

Oh, the trail-off groove.
The trail-off. Well see, back in those days, you didn’t have a record that didn’t have an ending. Here I had one that didn’t have no ending. He’s playing along there, and all of a sudden the music just stops.

There wasn’t no radio stations, so I got it on all the jukeboxes. The jukebox operators...well, all them people would go out there wanting to hear the ending, and ‘course there is no ending. And so they’re raising hell ‘cause their jukebox didn’t play the record to the ending...so, they had all kind of trouble. My record was the #1 record on the box, but they was always getting calls. Service calls. So, they had to take my record off of the boxes on account of that no ending business. (Laughs)

So, there was no playing of your records over the air at that time, I take it.
Oh, no. They didn’t play those kinds of records anyway. There was one station here in Lake Charles, there was another station in Baton Rouge, and there was another one in New Orleans. Now, there may have been one in Lafayette, but, to my knowledge, I didn’t know about it. I used to listen to Cliff Bruner coming out of Port Arthur.

Well, it must not have been very long after that that you got a live radio show.
Wasn’t too long, no.

That was probably about ‘47?
Somewhere along in there...the manager of the station (KPLC), I went and asked him to let us play, so he put us on for three days a week. And that’s where I met Iry LeJeune.

See, in the Hackberry Ramblers, they wouldn’t let nobody else get up and sing (i.e., sit in with the band). And I didn’t think that was good, because I wanted to see what everybody else could do. And if they could do something I couldn’t, I wanted to know what it was so I could learn to do it too. So, I wasn’t too happy, because Luderin wouldn’t let nobody get up on the bandstand. So when I got my band, I said that’s the first thing I’m going to do, is let anybody get up there and sing that wants to. So, I got on this radio station, and I had all kinds of people coming up wanting to sing on my show, so I let ‘em sing, y’know? Of course, I did everything fine until Iry LeJeune come along.

How did he approach you?
Well, I looked up one day, saw a guy coming down the street with an old floppy hat on, and a flour sack under his arms...I looked at him and said, My God, what is that? I said, I don’t know what it is, but if you can name it, you can have it.

He was walking toward the radio station, or the record store?
He was walking down there where we was waiting for the time to go on the radio station...on the sidewalk. There was a bar across the street from the radio station. We was waiting outside of the bar, ‘cause I wasn’t a bar patron at all. But some of the rest of ‘em were, y’know.

So when he came up there, he told me who he was, shook hands with me, and (said that he) would like to perform on my radio show. I said, well, okay, what do you play? Well, he pulled his accordion out of the flour sack -- I had never seen one of them, because all of this Cajun music had been with a string band.

So, I said, “What is that?” He said, “That’s a French Accordion.” I said, “Well, okay.” So I put him on the station...Iry got up and sang his three songs. When the show was over, I was walking out the front door...Iry had already gone a while before then. But he had told me before he left (that) he wanted to talk to me about makin’ records, because, see, at that time I had records out. I said, “Come back and catch me some time, and we’ll see about it.” You know, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about making (records of) the kind of music he was making, ‘cause I had never even heard that kind of music.

So you’d heard Cajun songs played on the fiddle for years, but...
Yeah, but not no accordion. Because the accordion was an extinct animal at that point in time. So, that’s why I was kind of reluctant to do it.

But then, when we were leaving the building, the station manager come out of his room in the back -- he had just bought the station -- well, he was a little short fella, about five feet tall, weighed 200 pounds. He was just like a butterball. But he had a voice like a bull. And he said, “Eddie Shuler, you SOB, what in the hell was that you had on our station?” I said, “Mr. Wilson, that man said that was Cajun music. You’ll have to take his word for it, ‘cause I’ve never heard none of that kind of music before.” He said, “Well, if you ever do that again, I’m gonna kick your so-and-so out the front door.” I said, “Yes, sir, Mr. Wilson,” ‘cause I was getting good bookings as a result of my show on the radio. I didn’t want to lose that. So I was very congenial about it. I said, “Oh yes, we’re not going to do that no more.”



And you probably figured that’d be the last time you’d see Iry LeJeune.
Oh yeah. But I told him to come back in about three weeks, and I’d have him an answer -- when he talked about making records. So he came back in three weeks, and said, “What have you thought about it?” I forgot all about it...I looked at him and said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Making my records.”

I said (to myself), I remember now, I told that guy to come back and I’d tell him whether I’d make some records or not. Well, by that time, I realized that the guy couldn’t see. I kind of felt sorry for him. I said, “Let me tell you what --” On the spur of the moment I decided this. I said, “I’ll make you a record, and if it sells any, you’re in business; if it don’t, you’ll have to find somebody else to make your next records, ‘cause I won’t be around.” He said, “Fair enough. Will you shake on it?” I said sure. So man, he grabbed my arm and we pumped, y’know, and then I went back out to the job, working with the dragline business, and I told these guys, “I told this guy I’d make some records on him, and he insisted I shake hands with him.” They said, “Well, you didn’t shake hands with him?” I said, “Yes I did, what’s wrong with that?” They said, “With a Cajun, that’s a contract.” I said, “Oh my God...I got stuck with this guy. Supposing his record don’t sell?” (Laughter) And I started worrying about that.

How well did Iry speak English?
He could talk English fairly good...but let me tell you what, them Cajuns loved that man. They just worshipped him. He was idolized by Cajun people.

I played on a lot of his records, because he really liked my guitar playing, but the problem I had, I didn’t know when he was changing chords and when he wasn’t changing chords, ‘cause I didn’t understand that stuff that good. But I’d change when I thought it was the right time...

You played live shows with him sometimes...what was that like?
He always had a packed house. I only played with him at a couple of clubs, really, around Lake Charles. But he loved that guitar, because I had a different style...

Did you do all of his recordings at KPLC?
I did it all over the place. His first recording was at KAOK. I’d give the engineer ten dollars to cut me a disc, and then I’d send the disc off to the pressing plant in New York, or...by that time I’d found the Bihari Brothers out there in California.

Oh, they were pressing for you.
They would press some for me.

Now, there was a second Goldband release numbered 1011, and that was Way Down Under Blues b/w I’m Mighty Afraid You’re Wrong. Was that the second release?

I don’t think so. I think there was one called “I Never Want a Sweetheart” before that.

Where you recording these, say from 1946 through 1949? At KPLC, or...
Be honest with you, I don’t remember.

Did you go back to New Orleans?
No, I never went back to New Orleans no more.

So, they were local productions, right?
I bought a disc cutter. Had an engineer here in town named Sylvian Phenic (sp)...he built me a disc recorder. And I’d set that thing out there in the middle of the floor to make my records. Make my discs.

So you were still running Johnson’s Music?
No, no, that was on down past Johnson...well, I might’ve did something while I was there, too. But it was Eddie’s Music House when I was doing that stuff.

(Note: Eddie's Music House may have opened as early as 1945. It is listed in the 1946 Lake Charles City Directory.)



Eddie Shuler's Reveliers at the Sears in Lake Charles, c. 1946. Pee Wee Lyons on steel, Johnny Porter (?) on fiddle. "But them people, they sort of turned me off a little bit, because after you got through playing the job, they’d all go out, booze it up and jam ‘til 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning. Then they’d go sleep a couple of hours, and then start all over again."




Now, when did you open Eddie’s Music House?
I would say in about late ‘45 or ‘46, somewhere along in there. That was on Broad Street.

And was that like Johnson’s, where you sold instruments and records...
Yeah, I had the instruments and records, but I had bought a little shotgun house, and I was fixing radios by that time. I had the radio business wrapped up. ‘Cause I was doing, I called it "Quick Service," and I’d give ‘em quick service. Whereas the other shops would take your radio in, set ‘em on a shelf, and keep ‘em for two or three weeks, and charge ‘em a lot of money. And I said, “Well, hell, I can charge ‘em the same money, and they’ll pay it, and they’ll get their radios right away, ‘cause that’s what they want.” So, that’s what I did.

Were you still working in construction at this point?
Not at that point, no. I was playing music and running the business.

So when you opened the shop on Broad Street is when you started working full time in radio and music...
Yeah. That was about ‘46, ‘47, somewhere along in there.

So, that’s where you would do most of your recording from that period?
Yes. The man who owned this property, he was gonna build me a building there, but he had to move his planes out of here to Baton Rouge or someplace, and the weather got him...it killed him. They found his plane out there between here and Baton Rouge. The heirs sold the property, so then I had to wind up (move) to the end of Broad Street there...I cut a lot of records in the back of that building.

There’s a picture of the Reveliers I’ve seen, it looks like you’re playing at a clothing store or something...
Yeah, that’s Sears. The manager at KPLC took over the management of my band, and he booked me in all those places. He’d sell commercials for the radio station, then book my band in there to perform. And got me other jobs, too.

Did you ever meet Harry Choates, or have any memories of him?
Harry Choates was one of them overnight sensations. He went and cut that “Jole Blon” thing...

I bet you must have sold a lot of those at the store.
Oh yeah, we did. But they were hard to get. They just couldn’t get ‘em in here, they didn’t have nobody that knew how how to distribute them, you know.

I thought Choates was a real good fiddle player. He had a charisma about him that was outstanding.

Now, you recorded a guy named Jimmy Choates...
Yeah, that was later. That was Harry Choates’s cousin. He was also an excellent violin player.

How did you rate Pee Wee Lyons as a musician?
Excellent. He was a real good musician. He’d let his fingernails grow, and they was just like the steel picks you used to pick the strings with on the steel guitar.

It seems like that would make your fingers bleed.
Well, it didn’t seem to bother him.

He worked with your band off and on for quite awhile, I take it.
Off and on for quite awhile, yes.



Eddie Shuler's Reveliers at KPLC in Lake Charles, early 1950s, with Charlie Broussard on fiddle (far right).



Now, when you recorded Iry, you created the Folk-Star label. Was that originally intended to be just a Cajun label?
I intended that to be a “folk” type of music (label), because that’s what I termed Cajun music as: folk music. I decided that I’d have those kind of songs on my folk label. On top of that, if I had them all on Goldband, when I’d go out to the jukebox operators, they could only buy so many copies of one label. So I started this other label, so then I’d have two labels to get on the jukeboxes. That’s how I wound up with all those other labels. And, in later years, I found out that it worked the same way with radio stations. They could only play so many of one company’s records. So, I said, "Well, I’ll give them other labels, and they won’t know they’re mine." So that’s what I did.

There was a time there, in the early fifties, where it seemed like just about everything you were releasing was on Folk-Star. It seems like you almost discontinued Goldband for awhile.

I was so busy with that stuff, I didn’t have time for Goldband anymore. But then, later on, it switched back around.

So, you were taken completely by suprise with the success and popularity of Iry LeJeune...
Oh, yeah. Well, the guy could go out, and I’ve seen him do this, he’d go out there, get drunk, and start cussin’ all the people out in the club -- and of course it would be late at night and they’re all half-looped anyway -- so they’d all get mad, go home, (and threaten that) they’re never gonna come to his dances again, and blah, blah, blah. The next time he came to play, two weeks later, there they all were, right back in there. I didn’t understand that at all; it didn’t make any sense to me. But that’s the kind of following he had. And he was even bigger after that than he was before.

You mentioned recording him at KAOK...what were some of the other places you recorded him at?
At his house. By that time, I had found one of the little tape recorders that they’d come out with. It cost $247. And I said, "Well, I’ll just make my records on that thing." So, I went to Iry’s house, and did some recording in his house. And, of course, they had built his house out of green lumber. Well, when it all dried, they had cracks in the walls. There wasn’t no insulation.

We had this song, I forget the name now ("Durald Waltz"). It was a fiddle song, so Iry didn’t play on it. The fiddle player (Wilson Granger) played it. (During the recording), the dogs outside cried during the middle, but you couldn’t hear it because of the ambience of the record. In later years, people asked, "How did you get that dog in your record?" I said, "I don’t have no dog in my record." They started cleaning ‘em up (the tapes), and I got to listening to the thing and said, "Oh, yeah. There is a dog in there." (Laughs) That’s when I realized the dogs were outside moaning and groaning while they were playing music. “Durald Waltz,” that’s it. That’s the one.

After he got killed, I threw all his records back in the corner and forgot about it, ‘cause I heard when one of them died, you couldn’t give his records away. Well, a couple of years later, maybe not that long, they come around here and want to hear Iry’s records. Some of ‘em were six foot two, weighed 280 pounds...I’d get one of the records out and play it, and stand up there and cry like a baby. I started reissuing his records then.

His first recording had a fiddle, a guitar, and a steel guitar. Them were all his wife’s brothers. That was “Lacassine Special” and “Calcasieu Waltz,” that was his first recording (on Folk-Star).


Eddie peddling Goldband 45s out of the trunk of his Cadillac.



You recorded Joe Manuel...do you remember anything about him?
Oh yes, he was a real good French singer and fiddle player. The way I found him, I was coming back one night from somewhere way up in North Louisiana, coming down old highway 165, and I seen this club out there about 12 o’clock in the morning, 3 o’clock in the morning -- I don’t know what time it was, but it was late. And they had a bunch of cars. I said, "Let me stop and check this out." There was Abe and Joe Manuel in there playing, and they had a pretty good crowd.

Now, you also had Gene Rodrigue...
Gene was from South Louisiana, down around Golden Meadow, somewhere down there. He had a good band. “La Ville” was one of my favorite songs that I liked. That was the reason I recorded him.

You just had one release on him?
Yeah.

The first record I have on Cleveland Crochet is his version of “Keep A-Knockin’,” which came out on Folk-Star. Do you remember that?

Vaguely. Back in those days, I’d record just about anybody that came along, you know. Because I was the only game in town. Of course, I wanted to do it...I said, "Why not?"



You pretty much had an open door policy...
Oh yeah, I was very receptive. I sometimes think I would’ve been a whole lot better off if I’d been a little more selective, but then, I wound up with some great records, so I don’t know. Some of the things I did, I didn’t think were worth anything, but they always outsold the ones that I liked so good. That kind of aggravated me to a degree, ‘cause I couldn’t understand why that happened. But I finally realized that the public has their own taste, and just because I’m a musician, it doesn’t make me Jesus Christ, ‘cause they’re the ones that plunk the money down on the counter.

So, you more or less decided that you’d record anything that sounded good, and let the public decide whether...
That’s the way I viewed it. I didn’t care too much about my own decisions, because, like I said, the things I liked wasn’t what they liked. So, we might as well go along with what they like. And they generally always liked the things that I let (the band) go in there and do whatever they did.

Now, your biggest hit I guess was “Ace of Love”?
Yes, that was a big one. I was playing in a club between here and (East) Orange, on this side of the river, called the Rainbow Club. I played out there three nights a week for seven years. It was at that time I cut “Ace of Love.” The thing come out, and it was a smash hit. My popularity went up -- I could get $300 a night, and man, that was a lot of money back in those days. So, that was the beginning of me realizing that there was more to this stuff than I’d even dreamed there was.



Eddie in 1971.


Now, a lot of your records up this point had no publishing credit at all.
No. Well, I had a publishing deal with a fellow in Houston, Pappy Daily. It didn’t work too good. Daily had a jukebox distributing business, so I gave him the publishing on my songs, thinking that would help me get my records on his jukeboxes. Well, guess what? That didn’t help a bit. He was my publisher, but he wouldn’t put none of my records on the jukebox. That kind of ticked me off, so I said, "I’ve got to start my own publishing company, because I’m spending my money, giving this guy this benefit, and he’s not doing nothing for me." So that’s how I wound up getting serious about the publishing business.

And, at that point in time, I’d met Don Pierce in Nashville, him and Daily had formed Starday and moved it to Nashville. Don Pierce had come off the West Coast. Don was helping me out, supplying me with a little extra finances, so with him I formed this publishing company. Pappy Daily got real PO’d about it, so him and Don had a falling out. They parted company as a result of me. We had some pretty good things with Don, that he put on his Hollywood label.

You said Don was helping you out financially. How did...
Well, if I needed to put out a record, and I didn’t have enough money, he’d loan me the money to put out the record.

And you were satisfied with him as a promoter and publisher?
Oh yeah. He was an honest guy; a first-class businessperson. Somewhere along the way, later on after all of this stuff was over with, he sent me a check for $875. I said, "I wonder what this is for?" Well, I called him up, and he said, "Well, I owed you that, I just never had paid you."



Billboard, May 19, 1951. Confusing note about a then-five-year-old label starting up anew, with Steve Fruge, not Shuler listed as owner. Fruge may have been a temporary business partner.



Where did you do most of your pressing in the fifties?
Plastic Products in Memphis. Buster Williams.

We’ve talked before about TNT Records, and I wanted to go over that again, because I’m intrigued by your connection to TNT.
Well, I went to San Antonio because Bob Tanner had a pressing plant. So, I drove over there, and took a couple of my acetates with me. And I told him I’d like to make a deal for him to press my records. So, he decided he’d press ‘em himself and put ‘em on his label. And I said, "Well, okay, let’s try that." I hadn’t tried that.

Yeah, he put out four records from your masters as far as I know, the first one being your version of “Grand Mamou.”
I had a bunch of top notch musicians there. Hector Stutes was the fiddle player. I can’t remember the others’ names. I think he also put out “Way Down Under Blues.” At least he had it. Maybe he never did put it out.

So, he just put out these records, and you sold them at your shop, and...
That was about the size of it. I’d sell ‘em out of the back of my car. See, what I’d do, I’d take my records and put ‘em in the back of my car and go call on all the jukebox operators. And they didn’t know who I was, ‘cause I’d just tell ‘em “Goldband.” I didn’t want ‘em to know that I was the artist, ‘cause the jukebox operator’s not gonna buy a record from the artist, ‘cause they never are any good, according to them.

There was a jukbox operator down in New Iberia called Teche Novelty. They had jukeboxes in Louisiana and Mississippi. They bought all my records. Soon as I put one out, I’d put ‘em in the back of my car and go down to New Iberia, and unload down there. And they’d put ‘em on their jukeboxes.

So that was your main distributor, I guess?
Oh, yeah. For two or three years, something like that.



Eddie in the Goldband control room, 1970. Changing times meant nothing to Eddie, who still continued to use the early '50s Ampex 350 on new recordings.



I wanted to ask you about Virgel Bozman.
He came along later on, he sold cowhorns...and he also got involved with George Khoury here. They went down to KPLC and did the same thing that I did: cut a disc.

Now, did Khoury open his record shop there on Railroad Avenue before you moved into Church Street?
Yeah, that was before I moved into the old church house.

And the church had been abandoned, or...
Yeah, they had built another church, because the town at that time was moving south. And they had went down south of town, built a church out there. They had abandoned this building and left it to the lumber company. And then the lumber company rented it to me.

And you didn’t see any problem opening a record shop in the same block as Khoury’s?
No, because I had a TV and radio business, a good radio business. The records were just a side deal by that time.



Eddie, George Khoury, and Phil Phillips at Goldband, 1959.

Did Khoury do most of his recording at your studio?
Yes. A couple of his big records he did over in Beaumont.

We cut “Sea of Love.” George brought Phil Phillips in, and wanted me to record him. And I said, "Well, I don’t want to spend no money on this guy." They didn’t have any money. I wanted to help ‘em out, and I had just started my publishing company with Don Pierce (Kamar Music BMI). So we got in here, I cut the record for ‘em, and handed ‘em the master. That was a mistake. I didn’t realize the thing was gonna be anything like it was.

But you did retain the publising?
Yeah. When I got my royalty check, I thought they’d made a mistake. It was almost $200,000. And that record is still out there, 40 years later. (Note: This is a rare exaggeration from Eddie. The quarterly song publishing royalty for a record that spent two weeks in the Pop Top 10 would have been more like $20,000, not $200,000.)

You didn’t record that much blues music, but what you did record was significant. I guess two of the guys everybody remembers are Hop Wilson and Juke Boy Bonner.

Yeah, Hop Wilson and Juke Boy Bonner were two of my aces. And also Clarence Garlow. I had some great stuff on him. He was out of Beaumont. He brought me a lot of those people.





Did he bring you Hop Wilson?
No. I think some guy that played with Garlow came along and told me about Hop Wilson playing steel guitar in a blues band. I said, “Man, I’ve never heard of such a thing in my life. I’ve got to hear this.” That’s how I wound up with Hop Wilson. He was a good musician.

You put out two records by him, but you’ve said before that he became disgruntled.
Well, see, after we put out these two records, he thought he was going to go right to the top of the totem pole. And, of course, on an independent label, it doesn’t work like that. And there wasn’t no way for me to explain that to him. I just told him, “Well, you ought to keep on trying, because you never know what you’re going to do.” But he wouldn’t do it, because he wasn’t getting no money. He was expecting all kinds of big things to happen as a result of those two records.

They didn’t sell very well, I guess.
They sold fairly well, but the blues wasn’t the main forte of the music business at that time. It was kind of a step-child. I liked the stuff, but there just wasn’t a market out there for it.

Legend has it that Juke-Boy Bonner saw a Goldband record in California and decided that he was going to record for your label, just based on the name.

That’s a true story. First of all, the record he saw was one of my biggest records: Jimmy Wilson’s “Please Accept My Love.” Clarence Garlow brought Jimmy Wilson to me. He (Garlow) wrote that song. Well, Jimmy Wilson was a fantastic singer. I mean, he was one of the greatest. But he was also an alcoholic … which I didn’t know at the time. So, I recorded him, and that record just went through the roof. At that time I was still affiliated with Don Pierce. We had eight labels wanting to lease the master from us. And I said, “Don, I don’t know enough about them people to determine which (label).” So, he checked it all out, and we wound up with that one down there in Atlanta (NRC). So, they was pressing the records, but we wasn’t getting no money. So I shut ‘em down.

It wound up on a jukebox in San Francisco. That’s where Juke Boy Bonner heard it, and decided that he was going to record for my company.

Tell me about Bee Arnold (Arnold Broussard).
He was the son of Charles Broussard, who was a fiddle player in my band. But he played rock and roll. He made a couple of records for me, and they were good records, ‘cause the guy was a good piano player. He was a young kid. I recorded him here (at Church Street). At the time he was killed (April, 1956), he had a deal with Mercury.

How did you find Boozoo Chavis?
He was brought to me by Sidney Brown. Sidney made accordions. I guess that’s the way he found Boozoo. And he told me, “I got a boy there that plays blues music. He’s got a good song, I think you ought to listen to it.” I said, “Well, bring him in.” So he brought Boozoo in. I told Sidney I liked the song (“Paper In My Shoe”). I said, “Are you going to play with him?” He said, “Oh, no, I can’t play that kind of music, Eddie.” I didn’t realize there was that much difference between blues-Cajun and Cajun, you know. Even as much as I’d experienced, I hadn’t experienced that.

Zydeco music.
It was a rare form on zydeco. So I said, “What am I going to do?” Sidney said, “Find some kind of band that can play it.” So, I went out and found a black band that played rock and roll. Classie Ballou. I told Classie, “I got $250, can you play this blues type of music of music with the accordion?” He said, “Oh, yeah.” Well, they got into the studio here on Church Street. And Classie didn’t know what Boozoo was doing, and Boozoo didn’t know what nobody was doing … ‘cause Boozoo does everything (his own way). He changes (chords) when he’s ready, and that’s it. (Note: It is extremely unlikely Eddie paid a local band $250 in 1954 money for a session. The actual payment was probably more like $25.)

That must have been a frustrating session.
It was frustrating. The bottle got passed around. We worked on it three days, trying to get that thing. ‘Course, we had a deal: Classie had to cut my record before he could get paid.

Three days?
Three days and three nights. On the third day, I decided to go buy a little half-pint of Seagrams 7. I gave Boozoo a couple of drinks out of that thing … well, I didn’t have no glass in my door (of the studio). I had the wires running underneath the door. I’d close the door (during the recording), so I could hear ‘em, but I couldn’t see ‘em. So … they were recording, and this thing was coming down real good, and all of a sudden I heard the biggest crash I’d ever heard in my life. But the music never stopped.

So you didn’t know what the crash was?
No, because the music kept going. So I went down to the end of the record, then opened the door, and there lay Boozoo on the floor still playing his accordion. (Laughs) I gave up on it at that time, and paid Classie and sent him home.

That was all the money I had. I was working for an insurance company part-time, selling insurance on the side. So, I went out there fussing to myself, spending all of this money when I didn’t get nothing I could use. I finally went back into the studio and listened to it again, and that’s when I said, “Well, if I cut it off (fade) just before he falls off of the stool, I got a good record.” Well, guess what? I turned out to be a hit record.

I’ve heard you say that was the biggest hit you had up to that point.
Oh, yeah. That’s what it was. I faded it out just before the crash come in. It’s a quick fade-out.

So, up to that time, you’d never heard zydeco music? In fact, you didn’t even use the word zydeco …
No, no. Back at that time, you just called it black Cajun music (probably “Negro Cajun”). There wasn’t no such thing as zydeco.

How did that record get on Post, the Imperial subsidiary?
Don Pierce and I were working together, so there’s no telling what Don did.

Boozoo only made one more record with you (“Forty-One Days”). What happened?
The guy at Imperial (Lew Chudd) asked me, “Can you get him in the studio and cut something else on him?” I said, “I don’t think so. I’ll have to find out.” So I called Boozoo up, and he came in. I told him that the man wants another record. He said, “Well, I’m not making any more records. My brother told me not to. He trains horses.” I said, “What does that have to do with the music business?” But he wouldn’t cut any more records. So, I called up Imperial and told ‘em. I didn’t want to tell him what happened, because I figured Boozoo might change his mind. So that’s what happened.

You moved into the Church Street location in 1955?
Yeah. (Note: The Lake Charles City Directory lists Eddie's Music House at 313 Church starting in 1952.)



Shuler letter to Huey P. Meaux, October 10, 1961. Cleveland Crochet's "Sugar Bee" is "selling up a storm in all markets, including the colored."

And that’s when you bought the Ampex recorder?
Yeah. But I bought the little table-top thing first. The little portable thing. But then I decided to buy the floor model. The 350. And that thing was a workhorse. Without a doubt, one of the best ever made.

You didn’t charge musicians by the hour.
No, I paid by the song. There was no studio clock running. It was just: when you get my song cut the way you want it, that’s when you get paid, and we move on to the next one.

What was your typical pressing back then? About 500 copies?
About 500 to a thousand copies, depending on which issue it was, and what its potential was. Finally, I found out that you paid as much for a thousand as you did for 500, so I started to press a thousand.

Were you still distributing records out of the back of your car by this time (late ‘50s)?
No, I had distributors...I had a distributor in New Orleans. He had Mercury records, about eight or ten other labels, and he had a salesman that went around and called on all the jukebox operators and the stores. So I thought, man, I had really reached the big time. But I hadn’t seen no sales. So, one weekend I decided to go to visit my wife’s parents in Ville Platte. I decided to stop in Opelousas at a record shop on the way there. The woman (who owned it) said, "Am I glad to see you. A record salesman just left here." I said, "Who was he with?" She said, "He was with Mercury Records, but he doesn’t have any of your stuff."

So, man, I sold her a bunch of stuff. I found out where he was headed for, so I hurried to the next town. I got there a little bit ahead of him. At the retail place, y’know. And I waited for him. So, when he showed up, I introduced myself, and we went in...I didn’t tell him who I was. After he come out, I said, "Don’t you have some of that other stuff that they put out there?" He said, "You mean that Cajun and that swamp music stuff? I got some of that, but I don’t ever take it out. I can’t stand that stuff." He was going to Tulane University and didn’t like that kind of music, so he wouldn’t even let the people hear it. So, I pulled my labels from the guy then.

Besides New Orleans, were you distributing into, say, Shreveport or Memphis?
I was trying to work with Stan (Lewis) out of Shreveport, but it was hard to work with Stan. He didn’t cotton to what I was doing all that much.

Did you have distribution in Texas anywhere?
No. But, like I said, I would go out to Beaumont and sell ‘em out of the back of my car, y’know. ‘Cause it was close. Houston was too far away.



Eddie twisting the knobs at Goldband, 1960.


So most of your records were distributed from Lafayette to Lake Charles, and that was it?
Well, I had so much other business, I couldn’t do all that other stuff. By that time, I got the TV business going gung-ho...

So by the time you moved into the Church Street location, the records were just a sideline.
Yeah, that’s all. I had 27 brands of TVs I was selling. I had 15 trucks, and 18 people working for me. But I finally realized that with all the money I was taking in, I was just putting it in one pocket and taking it out and giving it to the manufacturers and all that, so I said, "Wait a minute. This ain’t working." So I quit all that mess and went back to being a TV technician. I got me a bench man -- I done the outside work, and he did the bench work. I stayed in the business for 38 years, and made money out of it.

Do you think that it’s safe to say that Goldband is America’s longest living independent label?
I would have to think that that’s a fact. I don’t know of anything else out there that’s enjoyed the longevity that Goldband has. On one of their liner notes, Ace Records said that once you hear a Goldband record, you know you’re hearing something nobody else has. Well, that’s what I tried to do. But I didn’t think anybody was noticing what I was doing. I believed in just one thing: get the music as good as you can, and keep the feeling.




Eddie Shuler's Reveliers - The Goldband chronological discography
Compiled by Dave Sax and Al Turner


1011 (first pressing)
EDDIE SHULER’S “REVELIERS”
(A) A-1011 Broken Love (Eddie Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie) prob. 1945
(B) B-1011 Is There Room in Your Heart (For Me Darling) (Eddie Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: Original blue label with heavy silver print. “Broken Love” cuts off dead at end about 4 bars before finish. ‘A’ side has 1011-A in wax. ‘B’ side has 1011-B in wax. Label shows A-1011/B-1011 respectively. Reissued/remastered on a red label c. 1949 (see below).

Both of these have the logo, “Everyone a treat.” (Presumably intended as “Every One A Treat.”) These 2 records do use different takes including the ‘spontaneous’ asides, suggesting that the band had well-rehearsed the two numbers.

The acoustics and balance varies a lot between the versions suggesting that 2 sessions is possible, although unlikely. More likely the musicians or microphone(s) were moved after running through the numbers once. The two sides that are very thin and distant in sound are not on the same record! They are:

Broken Love. BLUE LABEL VERSION.
Is There Room In Your Heart (For Me Darling). RED LABEL VERSION

On the other 2 versions, the sound is more full but the fiddle less prominent. Quite an extraordinary set of circumstances.

The maroon press is a very swishy pressing and would have been pressed not that long after the blue label. It is less often found. Shuler obviously had the disc remastered because of the dead stop on the first pressing and had to come up with other takes. Both are primitive pressings from a time when it was difficult for the new independents to find plants to press their records. In a couple of cases, a side plays more than 20 seconds before any music is heard. Quoted dates of 1945 seem likely judging by the appearance of the records.

1011 (second pressing)
EDDIE SHULER’S “REVELIERS” c. mid 1946
(A) Broken Love (Eddie Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) Is There Room in Your Heart (For Me Darling) (Eddie Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: Maroon label with gold print; otherwise identical typeset, etc. ‘A’ side has G-1010 in wax. ‘B’ side has G-1011 in wax and uses a different plant than the blue label issue.

"Is There Room in Your Heart (For Me Darling)" copyright by Shuler and Ronald "Pee Wee" Lyons on October 9, 1946.




G-1012
EDDIE SHULER’S “REVELIERS” c. mid 1946
(A) Mes Cinquantes Sous (My Fifty Cents) (Miles) (Vocal – Frankie)
(B) Jolie Blonde (Pretty Blonde) (Vocal – Frankie)

NB: Probably the last with logo “Everyone a treat.” Frankie = Frankie Miles
“A” is a vocal duet, probably with Shuler. Same label and plant as maroon version of 1011 but 1013 has not been seen..

G-1013
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS”
Forever Lost
Soldier’s Waltz [probably]

G-1014
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1947
(A) Which Star Above is You (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) Only One Sweetheart For Me (A. Peshoff) (Vocal – Buckshot)

NB: Deep maroon & gold label.

G-1015
EDDIE SHULER c. 1947
(A) La Valse De Meche (nc) (Vocal – Norris)
(B) I Don’t Blame Myself (I Blame You) (nc) (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: Norris = Norris Savoie. No main artist credit; “Eddie Shuler” rubber stamped on label in gold. 6 in wax/4 in wax only. Same label as 1014.

G-1016
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1947
(A) Pipe Line Blues (nc) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) Burning Love (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: ‘A’ Side has GRC-2/A-12558R in wax. ‘B’ Side has GRC-4/A-12559R in wax. The “R” suggests that an earlier pressing could exist. Same label as 1014.

G-1017
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1948/9
(A) Hey Cushmall (nc) (Vocal – Norris)
(B) Faded Love Waltz (nc) (Vocal – Norris)

NB: Lighter weight Research Craft pressing, maroon and gold label, thinner title print. "Norris" = Norris Savoie.

G-1018
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1948/9
(A) Friends Gather (Stutes) (Vocal – Frankie)
(B) My Jolie (nc) (Vocal – Norris)

NB: “Friends Gather,” despite vocal credit, is a western swing instrumental. Same label as 1017.
Stutes = poss. Hector Stutes

G-1011
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1949/50
(A) Way Down Under Blues (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) I’m Mighty Afraid You Are Wrong (Sons-Shuler) (Vocal – Mary Sons)

NB: Same label as and pressing type as 1017 & 1018, indicating that it dates from the same period but actual sequence unknown.

G-1011
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1949/50
(A) Broken Love
(B) I’m Mighty Afraid You Are Wrong (Vocal – Mary Sons)

NB: Remastered version of the 1945/46 pressing with greatly improved sound quality.

G-1019
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” Billboard: Nov. 11, 1950
(A) I Never Want a Sweetheart (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)
(B) Your Heart Can Never Be True (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)

NB: Black label and gold print, same pressing type as 1017/8 and the new 1011.

"I Never Want a Sweetheart" was copyrighted by Shuler on May 19, 1944.

G-1020
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. late 1950
(A) Jambalaya Boogie (C. Broussard) (Vocal – C. Broussard)
(B) Traveller’s Waltz (nc) (Vocal – C. Broussard) = Charlie Broussard

NB: Same label as 1019.

G-1021
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1951
(A) Ace of Love (Shuler-Lyons-Choats) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)
(B) Hiding My Tears in the Rain (Gartland-Shuler-Nelson) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)

NB: Research Craft press.

G-1022
EDDIE SHULER’S “REVELIERS” c. 1951
(A) Right Next Door to Texas (A. Peshoff) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)
(B) Do You Think of Me (Shuler-Conner) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)

NB: from this point: all 78s have red labels with silver print. This one uses a different plant with written numbers in wax and has a larger title font, similar to Goldband G-F 102 by Iry LeJune.

G-1023
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. 1952/3
(A) The Couple in the Car (Next to Mine) (Shuler-Lyons-Floyd) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)
(B) I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight (T. B. Bransom) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)

NB: This is the first we are aware of on a 45 rpm, which is maroon and silver. The 78 is the usual plant, the same as G-1017 through 1020 (Research Craft).

G-1024
This was probably a cancelled release or mistakenly missed number. This number was used for a 60s repress of Iry LeJune.





G-1025
EDDIE SHULER AND HIS ALL STAR REVELIERS c. 1952/3
(A) Broken Love (Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie Shuler)
(B) Help Us Oh Lord (Gibbs-Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie & Pee Wee) = Pee Wee Lyons

NB: “Broken Love” is a new version, not a reissue of 1011. Same pressing type and label as 1022.

G-1026
This was probably a cancelled release or mistakenly missed number. This number was probably used for a 60s repress of James Freeman Folk Star / Eagle 106 and Folk Star G-F 1196.

G-1027
EDDIE SHULER c. 1953/4
What Is That Thing Called Love
Uncertainness, Unhappiness

G-1028
EDDIE SHULER
(A) Things I Love the Most (Are the Things I Must Forget) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) It’s a Dirty Deal (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: Listed in a Goldband catalog and probably scheduled, but not issued. It could otherwise have been a later reissue.
See next entry.

G-F-1129
EDDIE SHULER c. February/March 1955.
(A) Things I Love the Most (Are the Things I Must Forget) (Lyons-Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)
(B) It’s a Dirty Deal (Lyons-Shuler) (Vocal – Eddie)

NB: Delta pressing 3543/3544 = c. February/March 1955. The Shuler number (with the GF- prefix) is actually a Folk-Star number, but with a Goldband label. Hopelessly confusing, as it obviously became for Eddie at the time. 45 has maroon label as 1023, 78 not verified.

G-1015 [reissue]
EDDIE SHULER’S ALL STAR “REVELIERS” c. October, 1955
(A) La Valse de Meche (The Marsh Waltz) (Vocal – Norris)
HACKBERRY RAMBLERS
(B) The Misery of a Broken Heart (Vocal – not credited) Pee Wee Lyons?

NB: Delta pressing 6803/6804 = c. October, 1955. Reissue of G-1015 with a new ‘B’ side.
“A” side may not have been confirmed as same recording as original release.

Goldband 1029 does not exist but was the intended number for a Bee Arnold record that mistakenly came out as Goldband G-1129 (delta 6807/8) at the same time as the above record. Another current release was Iry LeJune FolkStar G-F 1198 at 6805/6. Likewise, the intended 1030 by the Boogie Ramblers appeared as G-1130, which was among the first pressed at the Coast pressing plant, contemporary with FolkStar 1130 [Clarence Garlow}.These numbers were used again in the early sixties.

This was the last of Eddie’s early records (he had a couple in the late ‘60s or ‘70s), and Goldband continued in 1956 from G-1031 as the label used for all artists. [Folk-Star was discontinued at 1201 until the end of the decade because of a complaint from 4 Star Records].

Shuler appears to have later assigned these unused numbers for reissues. A catalog shows 1024 as Iry LeJune’s Goldband 103 coupling (don’t ask – it was intended to be Folk-Star 103), but only a late pressing 45 from the ‘60s or later has actually been seen with this number. Likewise, 1026 is shown as a reissue as a reissue of James Freeman’s Folk-Star/Eagle 106 record (also on Goldband G-F-1196 – yep, a Folk-Star number), but I’ve never heard of a copy.


Eddie Shuler singles on other labels:
TNT 103
EDDIE SHULER AND HIS REVELIERS 1953
(1) Grande Mamou (E. Shuler) vocal-not credited
(2) Your Heart Can Never be True (E. Shuler) vocal-not credited but is Shuler

NB: Black label with silver print. No vocal credits, but “Grande Mamou” aurally by Norris Savoie. “Your Heart Can Never be True" is a later re-recording of G-1019.

Khoury’s 700
EDDIE SHULER AND HIS ALL STAR REVELIERS 1954/5
(A) J’ai Passe Devant ta Porte (nc) (The For Me, For Me Song) vocal-not credited

NB: Reverse is by LeBlanc’s French Band (Floyd LeBlanc, reissue of OT 104). This blue/silver Khoury’s is the start of the second 700 series, c. 1954/5, after the 600 series. Not the early Lyric/Khoury Hillbilly 700 series.

Additional unissued songs by Shuler can be found in the Charly Goldband reissue series albums "Bop Boogie in the Dark" (GCL-105) and "Hillbilly Stomp" (GCL-108).



Goldband Studio, 313 Church Street, in August 2005.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"No Color In Poor": San Antonio's Harlem Label





If it had only served as the initial catalyst in the career of one artist, Doug Sahm, Harlem Records of San Antonio would be significant enough. But it also gave us outstanding vocal group records from the Lyrics, Royal Jesters, and Fabulous Flames, along with patented “West Side” R&B from Sunny and the Sunglows (before they were the Sunliners) and Charlie Alvarado and the Jives. There had been a couple of reissues of this material in the '80s, but like many who had been exposed to Harlem’s catalogue, I sensed that this was an enterprise that clearly deserved to be better documented. How to actually accomplish that was another matter.

I began halting attempts to research Harlem in 1998 while writing the liner notes for Doug Sahm’s San Antonio Rock album on Norton. All I knew then was that the prime mover behind the Harlem label, disc jockey Joe Anthony (Joseph Anthony Yannuzzi), had been dead since 1992. Still, I took some solace in the knowledge that Sahm was very much alive and well at the time, and surely would submit to an interview. Sahm’s verbal excesses were legendary, though if they extended to his Harlem days, there was no evidence of it in print. In interviews Sahm usually catapulted from his “Little Doug” child prodigy days in the early fifties to the Sir Douglas Quintet’s 1965 debut on Shindig in the space of a paragraph or two. Did he really mean to imply that this crucial ten-year period was of no importance, or did interviewers know (or care) so little about San Antonio music and Sahm during those years that they just skipped an entire decade? I suspected the latter, though Sahm’s unexpected death in November, 1999, left that, along with the rest of my questions, sadly unanswered.

Sahm’s death sent me back where I had actually started from: a phone number stumbled across at random in the Texas Music Industry Directory for Emil “E.J.” Henke in San Antonio. That Henke was listed at all was amazing -- the veteran music man had flown so far under the radar for so many years that many assumed he was dead. Henke had not been one of the more flamboyant record producers Texas had produced. Age had also caught up with him. During our initial conversation, I wasn’t sure if I was communicating with a human or a backwards tape loop running on low batteries. Monosyllabic grunts affirmed or denied my questions. Hospital schedules were mulled over. Somehow I was able to clarify that yes, Henke still had tapes for the Doug Sahm sessions he claimed to have produced (falsely, as I later discovered), and perhaps he’d be interested in licensing these to a reissue label. A brief moment of clarity, then back to hospital schedules.

This was going to take some work. Two or three trips to visit a wheelchair-bound man in his late sixties later, I still knew only slightly more on Harlem Records than when I’d started. Henke, easier to communicate with in person, was no less remote and defensive when specific questions were posed to him that he didn’t wish to answer. The only reason he agreed to speak with me at all was because Norton had paid him for the rights to use his Sahm tapes for the reissue, which came out in 2000. Some of E.J.’s comments were indeed laced with real insight, even occasional humor, yet giant areas of unknowingness remained. “Joe handled that,” would go his stock answer for most questions I had about the operation of Harlem. “I was gone.” It finally appeared that Harlem would indeed have to remain buried in a hazy, distant past. Henke’s death a couple of years later, in 2002, reaffirmed this view.

What happened next was completely unexpected. Within a year or two of Henke’s passing, former San Antonio disc jockey Henry Carr – a name Henke never mentioned to me – emailed, revealing more details about the Harlem label than I had ever thought possible, especially now. Most telling was his explanation why Henke had been so vague and defensive about the Harlem era: he had been imprisoned in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for most of that period. It can be safely said that Henke’s role in the label was far more minor than his attempts to rewrite history made them appear. Anthony and Carr did most of the recording, financing, and promoting; Henke assisted with some initial capital, and little else.

In addition to Carr, veteran San Antonio saxophonist/bandleader Charlie Alvarado – who recorded eight singles with Anthony on Harlem and various other labels – has stepped up to help fill in the blanks. A few frustrating gaps and questions still remain, but thanks to these two men we can now bring closer into focus the true story of the daring experiment that was Harlem Records.



“A Bright, Twisted Man:” Joe Anthony and KMAC

Top 40 radio in fifties San Antonio was dominated by two stations, KONO and Gordon McLendon’s KTSA. These were well-oiled corporate machines, populated by interchangeable white disc jockeys with fresh broadcasting degrees. It hardly mattered to them if the audience requested a Little Richard or Ray Coniff record, just as long as it paid the bills and allowed the hoped-for opportunity to move on to a bigger market somewhere.

KMAC was another story.

“KMAC was a very cheap, third or fourth or fifth-rated station,” Henry Carr says. “It was not a big-time operation. It did a lot of phone-ins. It was all pitch radio. But they had this program that was on for two hours a night called Harlem Serenade. Flip Forrest, a black man, was the DJ. He kept the job for a long time, then got a better job as (gospel singer) Mahalia Jackson’s valet, and left. Joe (Anthony) had been looking for a job in radio, and had worked in, I believe, Refugio. He went in to KMAC to talk to the owner, Howard W. Davis – one of the cheapest men on earth – and convinced him that he could do this show, and he could do it for fifty bucks a week. Howard had been paying Flip Forrest seventy-five. So, Joe got the job. And Howard never knew what he got himself into…Joe was a bright, twisted man.

“This was 1956, ’57. Rock and roll is there. You could hear it on XEG, XERF – on a good night you could hear John R. out of Nashville (WLAC). Joe heard all those approaches and combined them. His mother was Mexican; his father was an Italian immigrant. He was like Wolfman Jack, but could break out in Spanish at the proper time, and say it in slang. So, right there, all the West Side loved him.” Charlie Alvarado concurs with this assessment. “Joe was one of the most popular DJs in town,” he says, “especially with the Chicanos.”

Joe and Henry had been friends since attending Brackenridge High School together in the early fifties. Both were bound by a love for black music, and a burning desire to get into the music business somehow. “Third-rate” KMAC provided that opportunity, despite low-to-nonexistent wages. “You didn’t make money at the station,” Carr, who began working for KMAC’s FM sister station KISS in 1958, points out. “You made money through the station. I was doing charts for KMAC. Joe had his show. So we could pretty much promote whatever we wanted. And, also, Joe understood that everything came with a price. That was the beauty of it.”



Joe Anthony's KMAC chart for January 8, 1960, with Harlem releases by the Lyrics and Royal Earl.

Ongoing federal investigations were little deterrent to the payola that ruled the day in Top 40 radio, as Carr unreservedly admits. “When record companies needed something on the surveys, you’d get things. I was looking at one of my surveys awhile back, thinking, ‘Why on earth did I choose Bobby Rydell on Cameo as the Pick Hit? Oh yeah – rent.’ And Chess Records was pretty much that way with us. We were in very close contact with Paul Gayten, who was one of the chief promo men for Chess.

“KMAC and Joe’s show in particular broke many, many records. No one would touch (Mark Dinning’s) ‘Teen Angel’ until Stuart Weiner at Wemar Music came down and said, ‘Here’s some money.’ And then, of course, it became my pick hit on the pop side. And Joe did that (as well). They also broke ‘Shout’ by the Isley Brothers. (Jimmy Jones’) ‘Handy Man’ was another.

“So, this was a station that you didn’t have to fight with (Gordon) McLendon – Gordon’s operation dominated the Southwest, San Antonio in particular. And here was a show (Harlem Serenade) that the kids liked. Harlem grew out of that – I guess our own greed. Joe and E.J. Henke were just a bit greedier than me, because they signed paperwork between each other. I said, ‘No, just pay me some money if we make some.’”

The only suggestion of disunity in Joe and Henry’s friendship was Joe’s sexual orientation. Anthony was a closeted homosexual, completely at odds with the innocent laments of teenage love his label would become known for. The mysterious Charlie Woods, whose name appears on at least one Harlem label release, was (according to Carr) one of Joe’s boyfriends. He may or may not have had a financial stake in the label at a certain point, as well.

Harlem and E.J. Henke

Joe Anthony inaugurated Harlem in the summer of 1959 with a racially mixed vocal group fronted by Carl Henderson, the Lyrics. “Oh Please Love Me,” a doowop ballad, was a hot local hit over the closing months of that year, eventually selling a couple of thousand copies and making all three local charts. Harlem was in business. But like most small labels with a local hit, Joe soon discovered that he had overextended himself, and was unable to offset the invoices from the pressing plant and distributors with his meager salary and unpredictable payola deals. Out of desperation, he offered E.J. Henke 50% of Harlem if he'd forgive Joe’s debts, and Henke agreed.

Henke was a big, lumbering man of German lineage who occasionally found work as a wrestler. Henry Carr had met him around 1955, when Carr’s father, a loan shark, hired Henke as a collection agent. By that time Henke – a frustrated country singer – was already involved in the emerging song-poem business, and would soon start a country/rockabilly label, Warrior. E.J. was fairly typical of most of the men in the record business in ‘50s Texas – a gambler who reduced the complexities of pop music down to a few simple formulas, underpinned all the while by a fervent wish that rock and roll would just go away so he could get back to country music.

“Henke comes out of that old school of song-poems,” Carr explains. “Henke was an apprentice to one of the masters. If you got a letter from Henke, it would say, ‘Now’s the chance to make BIG money…,’ and ‘big’ would be in 18-point type.

“Emil was a good-hearted guy, he was just really, really country. He was an old-style record guy/carney who always believed he had a hit. He never understood the music.”

Henke’s legit releases on Warrior were not nearly as lucrative as his song-poem mill, which relied upon low cunning and the naivete of amateur songwriters for a steady stream of business. For $20, gullible song-poets would send Henke their lyrics, hoping for a possibility at the big-time that Henke’s pitches promised. What they actually received was an acetate of their song vocalized by Arkey Blue or some other local country singer – and a “good luck” letter. Henke didn’t even bother to press vinyl singles, as even the cheapest song-poem operations did.

Carr was amazed. “I would go to the post office with him sometimes, and he would pull out a two or three inch stack of letters – and every one of them would have a $20 bill in it: ‘Here’s my song, here’s my $20.’”

Many small labels were done in by ordering an initial 500 or 1000 copies of a new record only to find it unsalable. Anthony and Carr hit upon an ingenious way to circumvent this problem. After a session would be recorded, Joe would pay to have two acetates made. He would then proceed to play the acetate at least once a night on Harlem Serenade until his listeners started calling the local stores and creating a demand. Only then would the bare minimum pressing amount – usually 100 copies – be ordered with money Joe or Henry had saved from record hops, and placed on consignment at the local stores and One-Stops (distributors who carried all labels). A few Harlem releases probably didn’t make it far beyond that initial press, though others sold into the thousands. Doug Sahm’s “Why, Why, Why” was by far Harlem’s best seller, moving (by Henry’s estimate) over ten thousand copies in 1960.





Joe Anthony KMAC chart for August 5, 1960, with Doug Sahm's first Harlem release.

Carr says that once a hundred copies were out in stores, “you’d wait a week, and hope that you could start pressing up 500 at a time. Once you got action – meaning that it was actually being sold – that’s when you had the opportunity to be overextended.” Harlem was often in such a predicament for the next two years, its weak financial position negating such niceties as royalty payments. “None of these people – outside of Doug (Sahm), who was paid when he sued us – were paid,” Henry says. “I don’t think we ever paid anyone. Harlem did not really make money, but allowed steady cash churn.”

Ongoing money problems didn’t prevent Anthony from plunging headfirst into the record business. Royal Earl, Gary Middleton, the Royal Jesters (“Royal” names were big in 1959), Doug Sahm, Sunny and the Sunglows, and Charlie and the Jives were all recorded in rapid succession over the closing months of 1959 and into the new year. Charlie Alvarado’s experience is probably typical. “I started playing at a club called Fiesta Club on Commerce in 1959,” he recalls. “Joe Anthony was a DJ on KMAC, which was about a block away from the club. He used to catch our show there. He liked the way we played.

“I started doing gigs for him at the Arthur Murray Dance Studios on Alamo Street. He’d be there as a DJ, but he’d also have a live artist. That’s where I met the Royal Jesters. They had a number they wanted to record on Harlem. I hadn’t recorded anything before that – I was too busy playing. Recording had never entered my mind.”



On the Go with Joe (Anthony), column in the San Antonio Snap News, 1961.

In what was still a very segregated era in Texas, San Antonio bands were different. “Race was not that important,” Henry says. “The Hispanic bands were always integrated. Some of the places on the West Side, like Mario’s and Mi Tierra, were open all night – so all races were welcome. On the East Side, it was black. But frankly, I never heard a lot of the ugly words until I came to California. San Antonio was about the music. We were all poor. So much for that competition – there is no color in poor. I just never felt racial animosity in San Antonio, ever.” A white boy like Doug Sahm playing with Spot Barnett or a black man like Bobby Taylor singing with Charlie and the Jives was becoming more common as the sixties began.



The Royal Jesters. 

Joe and E.J. didn't want the public to know that they were the actual owners of Harlem. This was largely due to the generous amount of airplay Harlem artists received on Joe’s show, and their high rating on KMAC surveys, all during the height of the payola scandals in Top 40 radio. This may have been the area where Henry Carr was of greatest service to Harlem. “I was the face of Harlem Records if we went out anywhere,” he says. Indeed, this is backed up by the only contemporary print reference to the label located so far, an early 1961 black newspaper column, written by Anthony, in which he slyly noted that “Henry Carr of Harlem Records” had announced signing Spot Barnett.

Harlem was on-the-job training for Joe and Henry. Neither knew anything about song publishing, allowing Texas Sound Studio’s Jeff Smith rights to their early material under his Tex-San (BMI) company. This only became an issue after Sahm’s “Why, Why, Why” hit and all the publishing royalties went to Smith. Joe very quickly set up Ebony Music (BMI), named after the Ebony Lounge, the local black hotspot.




L to R: Mario Cantu, Fats Domino, Joe Anthony, and Henry Carr, 1960.

“Neither Joe nor myself understood the value of copyright ownership,” Carr admits. “(Fellow KMAC DJ) Charlie Walker introduced me to Slim Willet and he explained the biz to me. He showed me a check for a large amount from BMI – his yearly advance for his tune, ‘Don't Let the Stars Get in your Eyes.’”

It was also around the time that “Why, Why, Why” began moving that Henke’s song-poem operation ran seriously afoul of the law. “He got greedy,” Carr explains. “He wrote back to these (amateur songwriters) and said, ‘Let’s re-record everything, and for $50 or $100, I’ll give you a share of stock in my company.’ Maybe he should have incorporated first. I think it was over a hundred counts that he pled guilty to. A hundred-odd counts of mail fraud. He went to Leavenworth. I was in the courtroom when he was sentenced. (It was) a shock to him. I had to get the marshal to get Henke's car keys so that I could deliver it to Juanita, his wife.”

It’s unclear how long Henke stayed in prison. According to Carr’s recollection, he was sentenced to serve five years, but this appears to have been commuted after only 18-24 months. In later interviews with this writer, Henke avoided the subject of prison entirely.

Henke’s incarceration probably had something to do with Anthony’s decision to abruptly wind down Harlem after the release of the Fabulous Flames single (#114 in April, 1961). By then he was preparing a new label with Charlie Alvarado, Hour Records. Harlem’s reappearance after a 13 month absence in May, 1962 with two older Charlie and the Jives masters suggests a newly-free Henke counterploy to Hour, though Alvarado himself has no recollection of any unusual circumstances surrounding this release.

“I am sure that Joe didn't participate beyond the early 1961 releases,” asserts Carr. “Henke was out of jail and asking for his share. Joe made some kind of move to settle, involving transfer of masters and also sale of his record shop to Henke. I was in the army during this time and had no direct knowledge of details, other than general conversations with Joe after my return to San Antonio. Charles Woods was involved, somehow – maybe a buffer.” The terms of Anthony’s “settlement” with Henke are far from clear.

Recording Sessions

With only one or two exceptions, everything on Harlem, Hour, and related labels was recorded at Jeff Smith’s Texas Sound Studios, located on Hildebrand Avenue on the city’s North Side. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes collecting Texas labels is familiar with the “TSS” designation, etched into the run-off grooves of countless singles from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. But who was Jeff Smith?

“Jeff was like an old-style Chamber of Commerce guy,” Carr says. “You do business with him, he’ll go out and promote you. Jeff would take stuff out to the stations. And of course, if it was a Jeff custom pressed job, he’d get ‘em out there early in the day. Jeff was probably the most accommodating engineer I’ve ever met. (But) he had no knowledge of the music. And he was a little bit cautious with running the meters. I’m sure rock and roll killed him (from an aural standpoint). He got a little confused with the electric bass for awhile, particularly with the early stuff on Harlem. You can hear it on “Oh Please Love Me.’ It did knock the needles off the jukeboxes.”

Owing to his paranoia, his nightly radio job, or both, Anthony rarely attended Harlem recording sessions. As far as Henke’s involvement in sessions went, Carr says, “I don’t think he attended a session after Royal Earl (Harlem 103). In fact, after Royal Earl, I was the only one who ever attended. Not that I ever did anything, but it always looked good to have somebody in the back smiling.” Henry laughs. “Later I learned, nod your head…it looks even better.” More laughter – informed by a knowing sarcasm.

“That’s how it happens…by the time you learn how to snap your fingers, nod your head, and look cool, you’re too old to be in the industry.”

The Decline of Harlem

Even with a strong local talent pool to draw from, personal drive and enthusiasm, a wide local following, and a lock on radio exposure for his artists, Joe Anthony never really was able to capitalize on the success and momentum that Doug Sahm’s “Why, Why, Why” brought to Harlem Records. His engagement with the label only lasted into the spring of 1961, barely eight months after Sahm’s record had hit, and less than two years after he had stated. The label he replaced it with, Hour, itself only lasted a mere four releases, coming to an end in 1962. Perhaps Henke’s prison stint had awakened him to the dangerous possibilities of his ongoing payola deals. The conflict of interest he boldly flaunted by spinning Harlem singles nightly on KMAC could have, if exposed, gotten him kicked off not only his own station but disbarred from broadcasting for anyone. Maybe he decided it wasn’t worth the chance. Besides, other labels had since come along to record local talent – Cobra, Jox, Tear Drop, Renner, and many more. He wasn’t as badly needed in that area as he had been back in 1959.

But larger than all of these concerns was the changing nature of black music itself. The raw and urgent sounds that Anthony and Carr had been digging since the early fifties were giving way to tightly arranged, orchestrated faux-R&B, transparently calculated to crossover to white teen audiences. Their youthful enthusiasm was waning. “Joe believed that rhythm and blues died the day Motown opened its doors,” Carr says.

There really was no going back for Joe. He retired from radio for a couple of years in the late 1960s before his improbable reemergence as the self-styled “Godfather of Heavy Metal,” a role he relished on a variety of San Antonio stations until his death from lung cancer at age 55 in 1992. Record collectors who tracked down Joe in the 1980s, attempting to learn something about Harlem, found a disinterested cynic who viewed those days as ancient history.

E.J. Henke soldiered on in both the local record and song-poem ghetto for the rest of his life, occasionally reviving the Harlem label for releases new and old. Henke steadfastly maintained that he had bought out Anthony’s half of the label in 1964; like many of Henke’s claims, this is refuted by Carr, who clearly remembered Joe offering all rights and tapes to Harlem to him in 1969 for $1500. Carr passed.

The last time Carr dealt with Henke was in 1968. Henry had gone to work for Mercury/Smash Records on the West Coast when the Sir Douglas Quintet scored their comeback hit “Mendocino” (on Smash). A phone call arrived one day from somebody with the far-fetched notion of leasing Doug Sahm’s nine-year-old regional hit “Why, Why, Why” to Mercury. The caller was eventually passed to Carr, the only person at Mercury familiar with both the record and the pitchman. “Henke was just an angry guy then,” he recalls. “He sent me strange records he’d produced. And they were terrible records.”




KMAC chart with Henry Carr, November 4, 1960. Why was Bobby Rydell chosen as a Pick Hit? "Rent."

Carr had, in fact, fared better than both of his former acquaintances after Harlem’s demise. After moving to Austin in 1965, where he was involved with that city’s nascent psychedelic music scene, he eventually came to realize that the entertainment industry was never going to blossom in Texas. San Francisco beckoned. “You could come out here and make a living suddenly,” Henry wryly recollects. “In Texas, you could get health insurance if you were a used car salesman, maybe. That was about as low as they would take it. People in the entertainment business didn’t get it. You couldn’t get a bank loan. You couldn’t get anything. Here they give you loans on dreams.”

Carr worked for Mercury Records in California for a few years but eventually drifted away from the music business for more reliable, less trendy areas of show business. “I didn’t survive disco, really,” he says.

It’s virtually a given today that anyone who experienced the California music scene in the late sixties as an emmigre would take a dim view of their local bands or records, wherever that might have been. Henry very sharply disagrees with this notion.

“San Antonio was the best,” he says. “San Antonio was the excitement. It was about the music. And when it ceases to be about the music, it’s not fun. I mean, 800 people at the Tourist Club Ballroom every Sunday to hear a couple of local bands, and a disc jockey who played records when they changed sets – every Sunday. And everybody left there happy. San Francisco was good for poets, but it was not really good for move your body and move your soul music.”

Joe Anthony and Harlem Records must be considered a major aspect of that remarkable time in San Antonio. “Joe was one of the pioneers. He understood progressive radio before there was a term. You’ve got to put him in there with all the other greats of radio, because they brought the music to us. Those were great times.” To Henry Carr, Harlem “was the nicest record company I’ve ever been involved with. Because it was so small, and of course the era – if you had a record company, you were in tall cotton.”

For the teenagers buying Harlem singles, the musicians, and the community at large, it was more than merely a local record label.

“It was part of them.”


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HARLEM DISCOGRAPHY
This listing covers all known Joe Anthony, Charlie Alvarado, and Henry Carr related labels and releases from 1959 to 1964. Harlem 112 remains unknown to this day. Hour 103 is still a blank, and the Harlem “1000 series” has not yet been worked out to satisfaction. Even with these blanks, this is still the most detailed listing yet published on any San Antonio label of the period.



101 THE LYRICS – Oh Please Love Me / The Girl I Love (August 1959)
One of the strongest debuts on any Texas label from the period, the Lyrics reached as high as #14 on KONO on September 6, 1959. (Chart data from KMAC is irrelevant for obvious reasons.) Unusually, “Oh Please Love Me” was reissued twice, first on the local Wildcat label (who pressed the Harlem singles initially) in 1960, then nationally on Coral in ‘62. Despite being a local hit, finding an original copy in playable condition today is a challenge. Mint copies have sold for $500 or more. Bootlegs probably exist.

Henry: I think the Lyrics played a record hop at the King of Clubs, and Joe told them that we were going to do something. I think we approached him – Abel Martinez. He was the leader of the Lyrics. When asked for label artwork, Joe had none. He asked Walter Evans (Joe’s nightclub act partner) to draw one on the spot. Hence the dice. Lonnie Fairbanks (Wildcat Records) pressed the first ones. Lonnie made his living as the operator of the first modern car wash in San Antonio. He had one press. When the girls were not drying the hood of a Chevy, they would slap a biscuit on and press one out.



102 GARY MIDDLETON Vocal backing: The Excello's – Don’t Be Shy / Pretty Please (1959)
Middleton’s only record, a decent attempt at late ‘50s rock and roll with an unknown vocal group, the Excellos. Repressed in 1978 for the nascent collector market.

Henry: I think it was the Gary Middleton record that got Henke involved with Joe initially. Doug Sahm was involved there somewhere. Middleton did an Elvis-like act, and that would have been too far beyond Henke’s country roots. We didn’t promote the Middleton record at all.

103 ROYAL EARL AND THE SWINGIN' KOOLS -- Forever Dear / Royal Earl Shuffle (Oct. 1959)
This is the debut of Fort Worth bluesman Earl Bell, better known for his later “Talking Guitar” single. The only Harlem single not to derive from local talent, it was recorded at Sumet Sound Studios in Dallas. Henry believes that Royal Earl was discovered by Lonnie Fairbanks and Tren Dumlao of Wildcat Records, though why they didn’t record him for their own label is unclear.


Harlem 104. This 1970s repress features "Producer: E.J. Henke" credit not on original copies. 


104 THE LYRICS – The Beating of My Heart / I Want to Know (1959)
The second and last Lyrics single, with a faithful Moonglows cover on the A-side. Carl Henderson sings lead on both sides. Henderson went on to record for Renco locally before moving to California and having a couple of minor hits on Renfro in the mid-‘60s.

Henke repressed Harlem 104 in the '70s; this is usually confused with originals these days. Originals have the "TSS" in the dead wax; the reissue says "Producer: E.J. Henke" on the label and is a LH pressing. (A copy of the '70s pressing sold for $180 on eBay in 2017.)

Henry: "The Beating of My Heart" was my favorite of all Lyrics material. Sales were 2,500 to 5,000 copies. The song, when played live at Tourist Club Ballroom’s Sunday afternoon record hop, filled the dance floor with grinding teenagers. The perfect blend of Catholic morality and the emerging youth culture. Scratch Phillips hosted a television program on Monday nights at KMEX – I remember the Lyrics appearing. Scratch was always good to Harlem. He played material by, and promoted, local artists.




KONO charts with the Lyrics and Royal Jesters.

105 THE ROYAL JESTERS Music by Charlie and the Jives --My Angel of Love / Those Dreamy Eyes (January, 1960)
One of the supreme moments in Texas doowop, featuring stellar vocal performances from the original Royal Jesters line-up (Mike Pedraza on lead, Oscar Lawson and Henry Hernandez on harmony). This was also the debut record for Charlie and the Jives, and Charlie’s grinding tenor sax combined with Arnold de la Garza’s distorted guitar provide a perfect counterpoint to the velvet group harmony. This first record in the Jesters’ long career is also considered by many to best capture the classic doowop sound. “My Angel of Love” hit #38 on KONO, February 27, 1960. This has been bootlegged by the doo-wop mafia. Originals are also $500+.



Henry: The Jesters didn’t have a band. Within the Latin community, there was a lot of hostility between bands. The Royal Jesters were right at the top of it. They always traveled in a pack – I don’t know if that was for their safety or not.

106 GEORGE CHAMBERS -- Time / I’ve Tried (c. May, 1960)
Henke asserted himself with this straight country outing, much to Joe and Henry’s chagrin. Charlie Walker played it a few times on KMAC’s country show. Chambers later recorded for Renner, among others. Mastered at ACA on May 3, 1960.

Henry: I’d be surprised if the Chambers or Gary Middleton sold anything. I would think that they were a hundred pressing initially. We couldn’t get ‘em to bite on George Chambers.

107 DOUG SAHM AND THE MAR-KAYS -- Why, Why, Why / DOUG SAHM AND THE PHARAOHS -- If You Ever Need Me (May 1960)

Although Doug Sahm had recorded for Sarg and Henke’s Warrior label prior to this, “Why, Why, Why” was the record that established him. “It was goin’ up the charts when school was out,” Sahm later told Deron Bissett. “It bugged me ‘cause then I couldn’t go to school to say, ‘Hey, look at me, boy.’” This sold well enough in South Texas to attract the attention of Los Angeles disc jockey Hunter Hancock. He reissued it on his Swingin’ label for national distribution, though it probably sold more on Harlem.

Henke repressed this circa 1973. This later pressing omits the band names, inserts a new song publisher (Riviera), and credits himself as producer – even though Henry says E.J. was nowhere near the studio that night. The reissue also has "LH" numbers instead of "TSS" in the dead wax.


Above: 1970s repress of Harlem 107. 

Henry: Doug was about 11 when I met him. I was on Johnny Dugan’s Treehouse, which was the kid’s show at WOAI, and he was doing one of the adult shows that came on a little later. (Laughter) Once I went to work for KMAC (years later), we became a bit closer. We would see each other on a regular basis, because I went to work at nine at night, and where else could he go? After midnight, you had to go to the radio stations, because everything else was shut down.

When “Why, Why, Why” broke, we had two options – one was to promote it ourselves. We tried that, and it didn’t work too well. That involved giving Larry Kane (Houston TV host) $500 and 500 records – and making Doug play three shows the same night (in Houston). Three separate record hops during a hurricane. I don’t think he ever forgave me. He made me go with him. We did two out of the three. We were on our way to the third one when Kelley (Sahm’s drummer) drove into the ditch. That ended the television and radio promotion in Houston. The deal was, for the $500, Kane would give you a week’s promotion up to his television program, on the air. So, it was fine. I don’t know whether it sold any records.

Once “Why, Why, Why” became a hit, we made a deal with Hunter Hancock, who had Swingin’ Records (in California). Hunter played it, did fairly well. There was actually money that came back, even on a 50 percent deal. That was kind of the feeding chain. A guy on a small station would make a deal with a guy on a big station, each time giving away a piece of the action.


Doug Sahm's high school picture, 1957. 

108 DOUG SAHM AND THE MAR-KAYS -- Baby Tell Me / Sapphire (October 1960)
Recorded July 26, 1960, Sahm’s soundalike follow-up to his hit sold only decently, and received no attention from any national labels. Rocky Morales and the Mar-Kays once again provide backing. By this time the local scene was heating up. As Doug told Billy Miller, “By the time I had ‘Sapphire,’ there were a lot more great bands in town. The competitiveness made you good.”

This was the first Harlem label to state, “A Manhattan Production.” According to Carr, this was another of Joe’s schemes, possibly to keep any money made by Harlem from being seized by authorities because of his affiliation with Henke.

Henry: With a Doug session, you never knew what was going to happen. You never knew what the name of the song was, or what it was going to be. It was just, “Meet me over there (at the studio).” “Okay, Doug.”

Charlie: I’d come into the studio and work with Jeff Smith. I helped him with Doug Sahm, on arrangements. When I was at the Tiffany Lounge (c. 1957), Doug would stop by. He’d play hookey from school, I think, because he was only 14, 15 years old.




Charlie and the Jives.

109 CHARLIE AND THE JIVES -- For the Rest of My Life / Bobby Socks and Tennis Shoes (1961)
Recorded January 13, 1961. The late black guitarist/vocalist Jitterbug Webb, who replaced Arnold de la Garza, shares vocal duties with Charlie Alvarado on “For the Rest of My Life.”

Henry: Charlie Alvarado is the San Antonio equivalent of Johnny Otis. He always had a band that had the style – whatever it was at that point. He could do it, from real Chicano, to Earl Bostic imitations. He knew how to get vocalists. The guys who could truly sing, as soloists, belonged to Charlie. Bobby Taylor, for one. He went on to sign with Motown as Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. It was remarkable to find Taylor in San Antonio. Charlie played the (Air Force) bases, and I think he found his guys there. Because his vocalists lasted awhile, then were gone completely. Never saw ‘em again. As far as what we called Chicano music of that time, I don’t think it got any better than “For the Rest of My Life.” The lyrics were perfect – the pain, oh, the pain!

110 SUNNY AND THE SUN-GLOWS -- From Now On / When I Think of You (February 1961)
Torch ballad b/w stomping rock ‘n roll. Recorded February 6, 1960, but not released until well after Sunny Ozuna hit big locally with “Just a Moment” on Kool that summer.

Henry: Sunny Ozuna really wanted to be on Harlem, but we couldn’t sign him because his parents were too smart for us. So he left, but we (released) his version of “From Now On” anyway. And then Sunny went one direction, and the Sunglows went another one. They went with Sunglow Records.





111 SENSATIONAL HARMONIZERS - Get Your Soul Right/You Ought To Wake Him Up (?) "A Manhattan Production."

Black gospel, probably a custom/vanity release. TNT press.

112 Untraced

Henry believes 112 was possibly a spoken word/comedy single by a stand-up comedian he found at the Eastwood Country Club, Joel Cowan, who played with a group, the Do Re Mi Trio. "They were an Ink Spots type group," according to Henry.





113 DOUG SAHM AND THE DELL-KINGS -- Slow Down / More and More (March 1961)
With solid backing from Frank Rodarte and the Dell-Kings (who grew out of the Pharaohs), Sahm’s “Slow Down” out-rocks Larry Williams’ original and all subsequent versions as well, including the Beatles. Rare promo copies were pressed on yellow vinyl.

Henry: The follow-up to “Why, Why, Why” (“Baby Tell Me”) got airplay throughout the city. It was a successful record, (but) the record that followed (“Slow Down”) sold more than the second one. But we had both KONO and KTSA playing it during the daytime, when people actually listened. (Laughter) They loved it. Every day at 3:30 you could hear it coming out of the cars…coming out of the high schools. The Dell-Kings had no color. There was no race involved. They played at the Town Lounge – that was their standard place. Their crowd was city hall, judges, bailbondsmen, and criminals. It was in the KMAC building, what would you expect? Up the street was the Tiffany Lounge, which had the Lebanese gangsters. The private clubs, like the King of Clubs – that was the Greek guys.



114 THE FABULOUS FLAMES with the Original Sunglows -- I’m Gonna Try to Live My Life All Over / So Long My Darling (April, 1961)

Garnering virtually no attention upon release, over the decades this has become one of the most sought-after and valuable vocal group records on any Texas label, originals going for over $1000. It was reissued as Sunglow 102.

Henry: The Fabulous Flames were a group of James Brown’s Famous Flames that were fired. We found them at Eastwood Country Club. There were three of ‘em: Louis Madison, “G.W.” George Washington – he was killed shortly thereafter – and I’m not sure who the other one was.



115 CHARLIE AND THE JIVES -- Come On / Mercy Baby (May, 1962)
Vocal on the A-side by Jitterbug Webb; B by “Charlie Fiesta” (Alvarado). This release coupling two older recordings (“Come On” was done at the same time as “For the Rest of My Life”) came out virtually simultaneous to Charlie’s third single on Hour, “The Coffee Grind.” While this move suggests Henke reappearing back on the scene and hastily releasing older recordings, Charlie has no memory of this (indeed, he has no recollection of Henke at all).

Charlie: They wanted to put Charlie Fiesta on there because I was playing at the Fiesta Ballroom. I got after their butt for that.

116 DOUG SAHM Music by: SPOT BARNETT -- Just a Moment / Sapphire
Recorded February 16, 1961. Despite Henke’s assertion that this was pressed on Harlem (which I repeated in my notes to San Antonio Rock), no copies have turned up, and the general consensus now is that it never got beyond having the labels printed. Henke instead pawned the masters off on Abe Epstein, who released it on his Cobra label in 1963 with the Harlem catalogue number (presumably just to confuse future collectors).




117 BIG BUD HARPER (with) O.S. GRANT AND THE DOWNBEATS I've Just Got to Forget You / Never Let Me Go "A Twin Spin Production" A&R Datty White
Blues shouter Big Bud Harper was a San Antonio mainstay, appearing locally with groups like Mike and the Bel-Airs and Spot Barnett from the mid-fifties onward. The Downbeats, a black group from Gonzales, had previously recorded for Sarg and scored a big hit in San Antonio with “Darling of Mine” on that label in 1960. Carr recalls that this was recorded at the same session as Sahm’s “Just a Moment.” Original copies are rare.

118 CHISHOLM GANG Anita / Kansas City (1973)
Mediocre lounge rock, typical of Henke’s later efforts, that sounds like it was recorded many years before it was pressed. The highest number known in the 100 series.

1001 Untraced

1002 THE MAR-VELLS Tonight / Wobble Trot

A good little ballad from a San Antonio group. The Mar-Vells were: Luis Arispe (vocals), Robert Garcia (Guitar), Joe Sutherland and Mike (saxes), Richard Garcia (bass), Richard Mendez (drums).

The Harlem “1000 Series” is so obscure that only two releases have been documented so far. It could be that Henke used this series for custom pressings on a variety of labels, as T-Bird 1003 by local band Bobby Shannon and the T-Birds (1964) has “HM” matrix numbers.

1003 Untraced (T-Bird label?)

1004 Untraced

1005 PAUL RAMOUS Fencewalk / Fifteen Miles from Provo 
Soul, probably from the late 60s or 70s.


RELATED SINGLES
Blue Star 101 Denny Ezba and the Goldens - I’ve Been a Fool For You / Don’t Leave Me Like This (1960)
Recorded at Texas Sound on August 22, 1960. Henke insisted that this single existed, as does Carr, though it may have been pressed in a quantity as few as 100. Hopefully, a few have survived in collections, though it has been impossible to verify this. Anthony probably thought Ezba was “too pop” for Harlem.

Henry: This was one more offshoot with Harlem… a one time release, a special project. A custom pressing through Jeff Smith. Silver label. I remember we charged Ezba $200, and I think we made $100 on the deal.

"San Antonio's popular new combo, the Goldens, making their recording debut with a tune called 'I've Been a Fool for You.'" -- San Antonio Light, Sept. 1, 1960.

Hour 101 Charlie and the Jives – I’m Leaving It Up to You / Scratchy, Part 7 (1961)
Joe Anthony’s first move after dropping Harlem was establishing Hour with Charlie Alvarado. Both showed a remarkable sense of the teenage market by reviving this old Don and Dewey non-hit, recorded at Texas Sound on May 4, 1961. A lot of teeth-grinding must have occurred after Dale and Grace took an inferior version of the same song to #1 on the pop charts, two years after the Jives’ version.

Carr was still lurking in the background, though he would soon be drafted.

Henry: Hour (was inspired by) Minit Records (out of New Orleans). So we were going to have Hour. It took very little to amuse us.

Charlie: I got the recording bug, because every time they played my records on the radio, I felt good. We were trying to sell (lease) these records to somebody else. Like Atlantic, or whoever.



Hour 102 Bobby Taylor with Charlie and the Jives – Seven Steps to an Angel / Ubangi Stomp (1961)
Possibly the first record in Bobby Taylor’s long career, which later included stints at Motown and VIP. Hour 102 features a take-off on the Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love” as the A-side flipped with a dance floor shaker – no relation to Warren Smith’s rockabilly tune on Sun.

Charlie: These guys had a little group at Ft. Sam (Air Force base), four singers. Bobby Taylor was one of them. They sang real good together. But the other guys were about to get discharged and go back home. Bobby said he didn’t have nobody to go to. I said, “Well, if you want a job, you can stay here.” That’s the way Bobby started playing with me. He did about a year with us.

Henry: "Seven Steps to an Angel" was a Randy Garibay knock-off of the Moonglows’ tune. Paul Gayten – Chess’s traveling promo man at the time – wanted 50% of the publishing. I don't think that we filed any.

Hour 103 Untraced

Hour 104 Charlie and the Jives (vocal by Benny Easley) – The Coffee Grind (Part 1) / The Coffee Grind (Part 2) (April 1962)
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters covers with black vocalist, Benny Easley.



Ebony 1000 Matt “T.I.” Madison and the Minit Men – Please Don’t / Don’t Make Me Cry
Yet another Joe Anthony label. A tape box in Henke’s possession credited the vocalist as Matt Mattison, rather than “Madison.” His identity remains mysterious, as is the “A&R” credit to Joe Anthony’s possible boyfriend, Charlie Woods.

Henry: Ebony Music (BMI) was created for Hour records. Joe had a Friday night, midnight to 4 am record hop at Club Ebony. Spot Barnett was the house band. I remember Mattison (Minit Men…we were awestruck by the Cosimo sound)…

Master 101 Spot Barnett Combo – Black Cherry (Twist) / Pony Ride (1961)
San Antonio saxophone great Vernon “Spot” Barnett’s signing with Harlem Records was announced in January, 1961, but his brief association with the label only resulted in this disappointing instrumental outing and Sahm’s “Just a Moment” session.

World’s 123 Benny Easely (sic – Easley) with Charlie and the Jives – Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye / You Say You Love Me

Bobby Bland Duke/Peacock homage with strong guitar.

Taste – Charlie and the Jives – Besame Mucho / Gilbert’s Rollin’
Charlie: We had an arrangement for “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. We didn’t have a piano, so the guitarist did the part. We also did a lot of Spanish numbers, like the bolero, “Besame Mucho.” At that time I had James Kelley on bass, Jitterbug Webb on guitar, and Eddie “Pineapple” Marconi on the drums. I told them I wanted to do “Besame Mucho” in E minor, just like we did “Take Five.” And I want the 5/4 tempo on it. And Jitterbug and James said, almost at the same time, “Charlie, are you crazy?” But it came out real pretty.

Sound Tex 641209
Tom Swift and his Electric Grandmothers - Empty Heart / Come On In


The folk-blues aesthetic drunkenly collides with the British Invasion on this December, 1964 epiphany from Henry Carr and friends. If notable for nothing else, the Electric Grandmothers (no electric instruments are present) enjoy the dubious distinction of being among the first groups in the U.S. to record a cover of any Rolling Stones record. Though "Empty Heart" only has about 12 words, the group can't remember them and improvises their own.

Despite a stellar cast – future Conqueroo guitarist Charlie Prichard, singer Michael Martin Murphey, Austin artist Mark Weakley, and Henry on jug – this is actually not as interesting as it looks, coming across as an unfunny folk parody of the Rolling Stones. One hundred copies were pressed, and that certainly was enough in this case.

Carr, Houston White, and Gary Scanlon would revive the “Electric Grandmother” name two years later for their Austin light show company, and it appears on a couple of 13th Floor Elevators posters from the late 1966-early 1967 period.

Henry: That’s a Jeff Smith custom press. I think we sold half-dozen or so. There was a disc jockey who was kind enough to play this over and over. He was a friend of Jeff’s.

By that time I was working at the San Antonio Express-News. Of those on the session, three of them worked at the newspaper with me. My brother, Bill Carr, David Price – who went on to work with the Monkees later. And I might have gotten Charlie Prichard a job with the paper. He was definitely a part of the band. Mike Murphey (Michael Martin Murphey)…He went to North Texas, but was down visiting. He was a friend. Mark Weakley was the rich kid in the back with the fancy guitar.

Jeff said, “What are you going to call this?” Well, what are you going to say? You’ve got a bunch of people who were stoned and drunk and have stumbled down the hill because they had nothing better to do, and it sounded pretty good at the house. “Let’s run down and make a record.” You can do it with computers now, but then it required five drunken people in one car.

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Joseph Anthony Yannuzzi
b. October 9, 1936 Bexar County TX
d. Sept 12, 1992 Bexar County TX

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Thanks to Henry Carr, Charlie Alvarado, Mike Myers, and Doug Hanners for helping with this article.

Last update: March 3, 2017