Category Archives: Classic Country Western

A blog about Classic Country Western Music from the days of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers to the Rockabilly 50s, Big Hair and Nudie Suits of the 60s and the Outlaws of the 70s and the Alternative Roots Country players of today. To paraphrase the old song, Mama don’t allow no prefab phony accent, drugstore cowboys and glam queens around here.

Shelby Singleton – Country Music Producer

Shelby Singleton

Shelby Singleton was a Country record producer and record label owner. In 1989 I sent him a demo tape of several songs I had written. .I had picked his name out of the Songwriter’s Market and didn’t really know who he was at the time. He was kind enough to personally write me back with comments and encouragement. I didn’t realize at the time that he was truly a player in the Country Music Industry. He invited me to stop in if I ever made it to Nashville. I wish I had. Thanks Shelby. Here’s his writeup from Wikipedia

Shelby Singleton was hired by the Shreveport, Louisiana branch of Mercury Records doing promotional work. He rose in the company until he was a record producer and executive. In 1960 he achieved first hit single, Brook Benton’s recording of “The Boll Weevil Song”, which became a #2 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the following year.[2] Singleton spent nine years at Mercury and its sister label Smash Records during which he was involved in producing many hit records, including “Walk On By”, Leroy Van Dyke; “Ahab the Arab”, Ray Stevens; “Wooden Heart”, Joe Dowell; and producing acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Roger Miller, Charlie Rich, Dave Dudley, and Brook Benton.[3]

In 1962 Singleton bought the master recording of “Hey Paula” by Jill and Ray, originally released on LeCam Records. He changed the duo’s names to Paul & Paula and issued the song on Mercury’s newly acquired label, Philips. The song spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1966, Singleton resigned from Mercury and formed several music labels, including SSS International and Plantation Records,[3] achieving his first #1 hit in 1968 with “Harper Valley PTA“. The following year he purchased Sun Records from Sam Phillips, including its rock and roll catalog. Singleton was on the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Singleton was known to find talent in all parts of the country. For example, The Flatlanders were brought to his attention by freelance producer Royce Clark. In 1972 the Flatlanders traveled from Lubbock to Nashville to record with Clark for Singleton’s Plantation label. Singleton and Clark went on to work closely together in later years finding and recording undiscovered talent such as Ron.Daisley and The County Fair from New York, among others, for Singleton’s Plantation label.

By Special Request: Buck Owens – Act Naturally

The Cowboy Acting Naturally 1964

Buck Owens’ Act Naturally was my song for my sixth birthday. I got a red and black cowboy suit, akin more to a Country Western singer’s outfit than something any self-respecting cowboy would wear. I think my Mom wanted my sixth birthday to be extra special because I was starting school. They even put in a request at the local Country radio station in Ames, Iowa for them to dedicate Act Naturally to me. In this classic video Buck is accompanied by his sidekick and lead guitarist Don Rich, one of hottest lead players of the era as you’ll see.

Johnny Horton – Johnny Reb – Classic Song – Amazing Live Performance

As a kid who was in love with anything to do with American history and the Civil War in particular, this song was made to order. I played it over and over on my parent’s stereo in the early Sixties. Johnny Horton’s Johnny Reb, an amazing rare live performance. Horton’s music truly crossed genres between Country, Pop and Folk, though you never sight of the fact that he was pure Country with his wonderfully plaintive style.

And here’s the original tune by the songwriter, Merle Kilgore

The First Record I Owned – Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits

The Arizona Cowboy 1960

The first record I owned, or that I called my own, was Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits. It was filled with his Americana story songs and I was in love with the Westerns, TV being full of them at the time. I remember playing it over and over the year before I shuffled off, unwillingly to kindergarten in 1964. If you wonder why I loved his music, take a listen to this classic live performance of his song Comanche. The man could give a soulful performance. Written by Johnny Horton and Francis Bandy. It’s about the only horse, yes that’s right, horse of the 7th Cavalry command to survive the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It sounds silly, but when delivered in Horton’s unadorned style, it takes on considerable depth, which is the mark of a great Country singer.

Rowlf the Dog on The Jimmy Dean Show – Growing Up In The 60s

I loved this dog when I was a kid. I had to watch the Jimmy Dean Show to see Rowlf the Dog. I was obnoxious about it. Never knew he was an early Muppet creation. Sounded a bit Teutonic with that name didn’t he? Thank you Jim Henson. You were the best. Of course, Big Bad John became ingrained in my psyche and likely later influenced my bizarre style of songwriting.

~ Growing Up In Iowa In The 1960s ~

The Classic Country Western Blog ~ The first things I remember

The first thing I remember is my Dad bringing home a dog. I was two years old. I know this from pictures of the puppy and me with the date stamped in the margin. The dog was a white Pekinese-Spitz mix with long frizzy hair and a toothy grin and enough energy for two dogs. Someone in the family, probably my Dad, named him Corky. I loved that dog.

The Family Dog
Corky – The Family Dog

We lived in a silver trailer house in a park near the Cedar River in Charles City, Iowa. My grandparents lived just a few blocks up the street and all of my aunts, uncle and cousins lived within a twenty minute drive of us. My Dad worked as an auto mechanic and my Mom stayed at home and took care of my brother and me.

I grew up on the classic Rock, Pop and Country of the 1960s and 1970s. My parents loved music. They had a stereo as big as a sofa. It was in a hard wood cabinet and looked kind of like the fancy dresser your grandmother brought over on a steamer from the Old World.

My Dad would play Sinatra on it, my brother, ten years older than me, the Beatles and my Mom, Country Music. I can identify most Rock and Country songs and the singer of the era in an instant, placing them not only in the year they were a hit, but also the season, spring, summer, or winter. As a kid, my parents took me to see Johnny Cash and Buck Owens in concert in Des Moines. Now that was a musical education.

In the 70s my brother and I played in bar bands. Though we thought of ourselves as Rock and Rollers, much of our repertoire, out of necessity was Country Western. I have to admit that Classic of the 60s and 70s has always been my first choice, but in recent years I’ve come to love Classic Country as well. This blog is loving nostalgia, an ode to a musical era that exists now only in our memories, and on YouTube. Thank God for YouTube.

There are not a lot of blogs that talk about Classic Country Music. This is going to be one of them.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man