Bip Bip Bip - Jerry Engler:
"SPUTNIK" 50 Years Ago

Posted October 4, 2007 -
Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES

By Oct 04, 1957, a big thing in newspapers worldwide was "Sputnik"' fly and the start of the space contest. That event sparked fear and even a little bit of paranoia on earth. Then American people were deep in UFO and Little Green Men and there was nothing surprising to see a young cat from Rochester (NY) catching with the event. That song titled "Sputnik" b/w "Unfaithful One" was soon issued on Brunswick 55037 and was reviewed in Billboard on Nov 18, 1957. That month, that rockin' song had just hit 50 years old and is still played!

Little Richard was strongly afraid while in tour in Australia when he first heard about Sputnik. He throw off his jewelery into the sea and hung up his Rock'n'Roll shoes for a while. But some others just goes strong musically with Flyin' Saucers, Satellites, Green Monsters or One Eyed Aliens. "Sputnik", by Jerry Engler, found out his way on the legendary "MCA Rockabillies" set of LP's in the late '70s and became a favourite dancing song on Rock'n'Roll hops worldwide. Unfortunately, the LP cover carried no biographical info about Jerry and we had to wait until recently to find info on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame web site. Have you heard the news? That cat, who worked with Buddy Holly, was still alive and recording. So I thought it' time to give him some reward for his long musical journey and to help the old man to shine.

A Rochester (NY) native, Jerry Englerth was born on March 31, 1936. In the late '40s, his folks moved to Phoenix (AZ) and four years later Jerry started to play country music before the raise of Elvis made him turn to Rock'n'Roll. From there, Jerry formed a Rock'n'Roll band and played on local talent shows, college parties and any other venues where they could enjoy themselves and crowd. Soon, Nick Nickson, a DJ knows as the Ol' Professor on WBBF, offered his help to Jerry. Not in a kind of Colonel Parker way - just like a local musical buff looking to help a talented local young guy. When the Soviet Union lunched Sputnik into orbit, Jerry thought it could be a good basis for a song. The song was recorded in a Rochester studio and a deal was set with "Decca" subsidiary "Brunswick" records. That record was even issued as far as Germany on the "Coral" label. Having a record out on a major label led Jerry to play the Rochester War Memorial with Buddy Holly and The Crickets (label' mates), Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers and others act on a package show. Working with Buddy Holly and meeting Norman Petty in Detroit led Jerry to travel, at his own expenses, for a recording session set in Clovis (NM) in Norman's studio. Jerry borrowed some money for the trip, took his 1950 D-28 Martin guitar and took a plane way down South. On Sept 7, 1958, Buddy Holly driving his brand new Caddy came with Maria Helena and the tape rolled. Buddy picked some songs and, unfortunately, left a Jerry' composition titled "Bayou Baby". That song is now a favourite of John Ingman, an English Buddy Holly' historian. With the support of Buddy on guitar, and even bells, they mastered a couple of songs, "What A' You Gonna Do?" and "I Sent You Roses", among the twenty they tried. That session came on Buddy' anniversary day and, sadly, four months later, he was killed in a plane crash. That event just floored Jerry who still owned and treasure the masters cut in Clovis with Buddy.

When his first marriage broke up, around 1959, Jerry don't wanted his children, aged 3 and 4, to be left alone so he hung up his rockin' loafers. While Jerry took a steady job, he never really given up music and kept singing and writing songs for himself. In 2005, came his first CD "A Whole Lotta Years, A Whole Lotta Music" with the two Clovis' songs recorded with Buddy and Vi Petty. That CD who should have been titled "A Tribute to my Hero" offering songs in Hank Williams Sr. style like "Lovin' You" or Jerry's own white blues "Lonesome And Blue". Hank Williams was his hero as songwritter for the legacy of material he gave to us to listen to and enjoy and learn from. Jerry is a country music lover and he remembered well seeing Johnny Horton and Tillman Franks on stage in Rochester. He used then to sing "North To Alaska" and "Ole Slew Foot" to his kids when they were growing up.

That first CD's led Jerry to put out a nice Three CD pack offering recordings of his work from 1951 to 1996 accurately titled "Very Jerry". Here the materials showcase the influence of the musical idols of his young days: Johnny Cash ("Free from Now" 1958/1989 or "Real Food" 1996), Buddy Holly (You're Gonna Love Me" 1997), Johnny Horton ("Husky Pup" 1989), Elvis Presley ("I Forgot Not to Remember" 1989) and others. The old man is a great storyteller and a great balladeer that can catch, just like in 1957, with the current hope and fears as proved by "Countin' Down the Calories" (1996) and "Freedom" (1990) who carries that link "They wanted them Liberty like in USA". Jerry, like Hank Williams Sr. in his time, can feel the spirit of the times and writes about everyday life from religion ("Take My Hand Jesus" 1953/1982), sad love ("How You Gonna Leave Me" 1996), the good old times ("Real Food" 1996) or the welcome end of an old love affair ("Maybe I'm Right" 1990 or "I Wanna Be Free" 1955/1993). To hear Jerry' songs is to know the man himself. He offer a perfect mix between the shades of the past, the echoes of the current country sound and a true ability to write original up dated stories. The melodies are very pleasant and the lyrics are solid. Jerry's passion remains intact since he discovered Hank Williams in his youth and has since spent hours polishing his compositions, wrote his french fan, Gil Vignal. He' sure right in that statement! Jerry' records can be found very easily. Don't need to take a spaceship and to fly to the moon; don't need any satellite - just send an email to Jerry Engler at:

Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES, Sound of the 50' -

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