Posted by Dik de Heer - firstname.lastname@example.org -
Thurs. Sept. 27, 2007
Born circa 1937, died circa 1992.
Eddie Bush was Carl Mann's guitarist. Few guitar players have a sound
as instantly recognizable as Eddie's. Bush was a supremely gifted
guitar player, who sadly had a permanent wanderlust. This made him
into a hobo wandering around the USA, playing wherever he could for
money to eat and a bed for the night.
Eddie was five years older than Carl and before their first meeting in
1957, Bush had already been in the service in Hawaii and had played
as a staff guitarist on the Louisiana Hayride. Bush and Mann were
brought together by Jimmie Martin, owner of the small Jaxon label in
Jackson, Tennessee. Carl already had his own band, the Kool Kats,
when he auditioned for Martin in early 1957, at the ripe old age of 14.
Jimmie agreed to cut a single with Carl, but he decided that he wanted
to use Eddie Bush, Junior Vestal and himself as backing musicians
instead of the Kool Kats, to achieve a more professional sound. The
single, "Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight"/"Rockin' Love" was released
in April 1957 on Jaxon 502. Carl paid all the session expenses himself
and got 350 copies. So the record never stood a chance. Eddie also cut
his own (vocal) single for Jaxon, "I'm Confused About You"/"Little Darlin'"
(Jaxon 503), but like Carl's record, this one never got much further than
the Jackson city limits. Both sides are pure country (nothing to write
home about) and are available on the Stomper Time CD mentioned at
the bottom of this piece.
It didn't take Carl Mann long to realize that he was heading nowhere
on Jaxon. Carl formed a new combo with himself on vocals and piano,
Eddie on guitar, Robert Oatsvall on bass and Tony Moore on drums.
The next step for Carl and his new band was to approach Sun Records.
Eddie and Carl kept going to the Sun studio with their demo tapes, but
they never got anywhere until they hooked up with W.S. Holland, who
would become the drummer in Carl's band. It was Cecil Scaife, Sun's
promotion manager, who took the initiative to sign Mann.
Though "Mona Lisa" was recorded in October 1958, it was not released
until six months later, after it became clear to Sam Phillips that MGM
was going to put out a version by Conway Twitty (which used the same
arrangement). Carl's version reached # 25 on the Billboard charts. The
follow-up, recorded in August 1959, was another revival of a Nat King
Cole hit, "Pretend", which went to # 57. Both these hits bear the stamp
of Eddie Bush's unusual guitar style. Many Sun sessions would follow,
always with Eddie on guitar, but at the age of 17, Carl's career already
began its downward slide. Unable to handle the rigours of heavy touring,
he soon become an alcoholic. Unfortunately, the same fate befell Eddie
But in 1960, Carl continued to sell records in respectable quantities and
in that year he even had an LP released ("Like Mann", Phillips International
PLP 60). Four of the twelve tracks on that (excellent) album were written
by Eddie: "Baby I Don't Care" (which Eddie also recorded himself later
that year, Phillips International 3558), "I'm Bluer Than Anyone Else Could
Be", "Island Of Love" and "Walkin' And Thinkin'" (also recorded by Eddie,
but shelved until the appearance of Carl's Bear Family box-set in 1993).
Bush shows himself to be a pretty good songwriter with these songs.
With Carl, he also wrote "Crazy Fool", "Ain't You Got No Lovin' For Me",
"It Really Doesn't Matter Now" and "If I Could Change You" (in this last
case, Eddie sold his share to guitarist Kelso Herston). All pleasant,
very melodic songs.
At some point there was a conflict between Eddie and Sam Phillips, of
which the details are fuzzy. Eddie appears to have gone back to the
Louisiana Hayride for a while to play with Carl Belew, but in the end he
did return to Sun. As a singer, his vocal style was strongly influenced
by Carl Mann's. Eddie also left a fairly large legacy of instrumentals at
Sun, but his best work is in support of Carl.
After Carl left Sun in 1962, Eddie started drifting. The pair was reunited
after Carl's return to civilian life after a spell in the US Army. Mann was
signed by Monument Records in 1966. Eddie plays guitar on the A-side
of Carl's sole Monument single, "Serenade Of the Bells" (Monument 974)
and wrote the B-side, "Down To My Last I Forgive You". Every few years,
Eddie would appear for a short while back in Jackson, but, despite Carl's
best efforts, he could not persuade Bush to settle back in the area and,
shortly after. Bush would leave again. After a very long period of time,
during which Eddie did not return to Jackson, Carl finally found out that
Eddie had died on the pavement of a small Texas town in the early 1990's.
(According to Klaus Kettner of Hydra Records, he did not die in Texas,
but in Arizona.) He will be remembered as one of the most original guitar
players of the rock n roll era.
- Colin Escott and Hank Davis, Book accompanying the 4-CD Bear Family
box-set "Carl Mann : Mona Lisa" (BCD 15713), released in 1993.
- Dave Travis, Liner notes for the CD "Hot Rockin' Music From Tennessee :
The Jaxon Recording Company Story" (Stomper Time STCD 20). Released
in 2005. - Dik
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