Mayf Nutter's Connection to Bill Haley,|
the Comets and THE KINGSMEN
The hit instrumental recording of Cat Walk on East West label (listed below) was actually
recorded as a Decca Records session. Bill Haley and The Comets recorded it during their
first sessions for Decca.
Record company execs refused to released it. Decca saw Bill Haley and The Comets as a
guitar/singing group only and would not permit them to release the instrumental recording.
Haley had recorded it during their first sessions because it was the group's biggest crowd
pleaser among the groups original songs.
Haley was surprised that Decca refused to release CAT WALK since it was a big hit with
their live audiences as a dance song.
Borrowed from square dance calls, dancers formed two lines with ladies in one line and
gents on the other facing their partners. The partners at the end of the line "strolled"
down between the two lines of dancers strutting their best steps to the end of the line.
Then the line scooted toward the direction the first couple had come and the next couple
in line would meet between the lines of clapping dancers and strut their stuff, continuing
until the song ended.
Haley was originally a Hillbilly Music group, later called Country and Western, so square
dancers often combined moves to blues and rock songs that were part of dance calls in square
dancing in order to dance as a group.
Haley acquired the instrumental cut with the agreement not to release it under his own name.
He found a taker in East West Records and named the non-existent group THE KINGSMEN. After all,
Bill Haley was the KING of the music groups at the time.
Dick Clark played the song when it was released on East West Records, not knowing he was
actually playing a recording by Bill Haley and The Comets.
When the national TV audience saw all the teen dancers on American Bandstand forming
a "Big Boss Line" and the teen couples "Strolling" their hottest steps to THE KINGSMEN
playing CAT WALK, a demand for the group at concerts and dance halls nationwide began.
Unfortunately, there was not a group called THE KINGSMEN and Bill Haley could not
legally own up to the recording which he and the Comets had actually made.
The signature electric guitar licks on the CAT WALK recording were played by Bill
Fisher who was from around the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. Haley encouraged Fisher to get
himself a singer, a sax player, bass and drums and go on the road as THE KINGSMEN, filling
the demand created by the popularity of Haley's recording of CAT WALK.
Mayf Nutter, an 18 year old WHP Radio Deejay and WHP-TV SPORTSCASTER was hired as the
singer and 2nd electric guitar player for THE KINGSMEN. Haley also kicked in 3 sets of
blazers for the group in Red, yellow and green tweed. Nutter, a Hillbilly-Rocker from
West Virginia who happened to be the same coat size as Haley, became the proud wearer
of the blazers which had the name Bill Haley written in pen on the inside coat pocket lining.
THE KINGSMEN were forbidden to ever reveal the fact that the group was actually formed well
after the record, CAT WALK, had become popular.
Mayf Nutter, who also was the front man for the group, was known to give a hint about
the secret by announcing that Bill Fisher, leader of THE KINGSMEN, was formerly the lead
guitar player for the famous Bill Haley and the Comets.
A one of a kind photo of Elvis shaking hands with Bill Haley, who is wearing that readily
identifiable red blazer, is now in the proud possession of Mayf Nutter.
That photo was taken in Cleveland, Ohio backstage at a concert and was given to
Nutter as a gift by a Cleveland music store owner who snapped the candid photo.
In the early 1970s, Mayf Nutter was recording as a single artist on Capitol Records
Hollywood when the photographer heard Mayf on a radio interview and contacted the station
inviting Mayf to the record shop where he was presented with the photo of Elvis greeting
Bill Haley, who was wearing the jacket worn by Nutter in THE KINGSMEN.
Later another group also took the name The Kingsmen and recorded the hit LOUIE LOUIE.
Unwilling to have the Bill Haley secret revealed, the original group took no legal
action to protect their name and eventually confined their gigs to Pennsylvania, Haley's
GROUP Kingsmen LABL East West REC# 45-120 - YEAR 1958
SIDE1 The Cat Walk SIDE1TIME 2:17
SIDE2 Congo Rock SIDE2TIME 1:51
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