Glen Glenn in France
What a strange choice to fly to France the rather unknown Glen Glenn instead to bring
around some big Rock'n'Roll names of the 50's and to be sure to have a full packed
auditorium in 2007? Not only because he's able to talk about the legendary Maddox
Brothers, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash but also 'cause he's a
real worldwide living Rockabilly Legend. Even if he's often overshadowed by those great
names, his work stand among the best of the 50's. In spite of the popularity of his
recordings, Glen stayed in the shadow of his friends. It's now impossible to find his
original records who goes for higher prices than any Elvis records (except his "Sun"
sides") but, luckily, bootleggers made a great work recently with his three "Era" singles.
On the legal side of the business, all his recordings are available on Bear Family records
Glen's recordings came from California and it may surprise some of you because Rockabilly
is often see like only a Southern style of music recorded only in Tennessee or Texas. If
Rockabilly music finds his roots in southern country blues and hillbilly music, don't
forget than many southerners hit the route 66 when the great depression came in the 30's.
Many goes to California and bring here them culture and musical tastes. For the next
decades, many Oakies and Arkies moved West for farm jobs, peaches picking or headed North
for factories and cars assembly lines. So that's not surprising at all to find Rockabilly
music in California or in Detroit, Michigan.
Glen, real name Orin Glenn Troutman, was born in Joplin, Missouri, on October 24, 1934. In
1948, the family moved for San Dinas not far from Los Angeles. Here Glen will meet Gary
Lambert, another guitarist, and they joined forces. Together, they will be frequent
visitors to the "Riverside Rancho" where they meet Joe Maphis, one of the best pickers of
that area. Joe had written the classic "Dim Light, Tick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)" who
set fine the Honky-Tonk life. Glen and Gary, know as "The Missouri Mountain Boys" recorded
that song in January 1955. They found a steady job at the "Country Barn Dance" in El Monte
from 1954 to 1955. Here they meet Eddie Cochran, already a confirmed guitarist, who teamed
with Hank Cochran as The Cochran Brothers. Both had any family relations, just the same
name. Glen and Eddie will work in Northern California for a while in 1956 spending time
talking about them favourite's pickers: Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Hank Garland or Joe
Maphis. Eddie's bass man, Connie Guybo Smith, will play with Glen for that tour. Then,
Eddie like Glen, was playin' Hillbilly music as shown in his 1956 recordings "Mister
Fiddle" or "Two Blue Singing Stars"' for "Ekko". No Rockabilly shades in those Eddie's
songs. Eddie will become a Rock and Roll legend after his accidental death, in 1960, while
on tour in England with Gene Vincent.
Early 57, Glen was recording covers of "Baby Let's Play House" and "Be Bop a Lula". Elvis
and Gene Vincent's success lead them to try his hands at that new sound. More strange is
the fact than Glen covered some songs by Mac Curtis and Sonny Fisher, two then unknown
Texas Rockabilly cats. In fact, Glen could bring home some records sent to KXLA radio who
doesn't set to them play list. For 56 and 57, Glen was on tour with the Maddox Brothers.
That family band that was pretty popular in the South since the 40's needed a young cat
for the teenage crowd. Glen's job was to sing Rock and Roll with wild Elvis move. Few
months earlier, he was doing the same thing in Porter Wagoner show. Porter Wagoner, a
country singer, was his cousin. The Maddox Brothers and them sister Rose were a pretty
versatile group who can handle various musical styles like Hillbilly, Gospel, Mexican
songs or Rock and Roll. Glen said it loud and clear - Rose Maddox was the first
Rockabilly woman and Fred Maddox was slappin' that dog house bass far earlier than the
great Bill Black for Elvis.
But if Glen was working with them on the road, he was not recording with them for
"Columbia" records. In 1956, The Maddox and Rose recorded a funny cover of Ray Charles "I
Got a Woman" retiled "The Death of Rock and Roll". A wild recording should cause permanent
damage to you audio system. Not all came from Memphis like many thought, even if Elvis had
recorded "I Got a Woman" on his first RCA session set on 10 and 11 January 1956. On April
4th, 1956, Elvis was hot with "Heartbreak Hotel" and played in San Diego (California).
Fred told Glen and Gary to come backstage after the show. Glen talked with Elvis about
singers they both worked on tour like Jim Ed & Maxime Brown or Porter Wagoner. After that
concert, Glen choice to get along that new sound. They meet again, in February 57, when
Elvis was in Hollywood shooting the movie "Loving You". Elvis is still Glen's favourite
singer and none of his a show went without some Elvis songs.
By 1957, Glen had already recorded several demos but his blended style was too different.
It was not really country, not really rockabilly. That music was new and records labels
don't know how to handle and sell that hot stuff. Late 57, Wynn Stewart, another country
singer from Missouri, told Glen go get ahead on with Rockabilly music demos. On 7th
October 1957, with Gary Lambert and Wynn Stewart on guitars, he cut "One Cup of Coffee and
a Cigarette" and "Kathleen". Those demos were rejected by "Imperial" records but raise
interest from "Era" records, a local label.
Glen had developed as real personal style that's no more country. The guitar work is very
different and can be easily recognized like the one done by Cliff Gallup or Scotty Moore.
The Glen Glenn's sound is very different from Elvis on Sun or Gene Vincent on Capitol. On
8th January 1958, Glen Troutman will become Glen Glenn and recorded his first professional
session on the legendary Gold Star Recording studio in Hollywood. Still with Gary and Wynn
on guitars, he used Guybo Smith, Eddie Cochran sideman, on bass. All those recordings are
fabulous and "Everybody's Movin'" coupled with "I'm Glad my Baby's gone Away" will be his
first record. "Everybody's Movin'" was covered by many artists including Bruce Springteen.
Around the mid 70's, after the incredible success of American Graffiti or Happy Days, Rock
and Roll revival was on the way. Some big concerts in London and the chart entry of 50's
recordings like "Jungle Rock" by Hank Mizell lead some labels to look in them vaults. From
England, came "Hollywood R'n'R" LP (featuring Glen), "Capitol Rockabillies", "Chess
Rockabillies" and, among the best, "Imperial Rockabillies" with the unbelieving Laura Lee
Perkins. Laura Lee Perkins has recorded in January 58, in Hollywood, six fabulous songs
for "Imperial" records. At 18 years old, she had just moved to Michigan from her native
West Virginia. Spotted by a local DJ, she will have a record contract with "Imperial" and
two records will be marketed. That legendary rockin' piano gal will made her come back on
stage in "Viva Las Vegas" Rockabilly festival in April 2008.
There was more gems in California than many thought from Bill Woods to Chester Smith or
Roddy Jackson. Unluckily, in January 1958, Glen got his draft notice from Uncle Sam. When
he broke the news to Era, they tell them that record deal should never come out if they
knew that earlier. So, they probably slowed down the records promotion. Nevertheless, when
Glen and Gary got them first leave, in April 58, they were back in studio and cut "Blue
Jeans and a Boys shirt" and "Laurie Ann". "Laurie Ann" will be on the next single and
"Blue Jeans" will the third and last issued by Era. "Laurie Ann" was more pop vein and,
unluckily, Glen stuck on Hawaii can't do nothing more than to hear his song doin' well on
radio. When Dick Clark wanted to guest him in "American Bandstand" to sing "Laurie Ann",
he can't have no leave. That's why we can call "to be born unlucky"!
When in Hawaii, Glen and Gary would open shows for various artists including The Everly
Brothers. They even cut some songs, including the great "Kitty Cat", who stayed in the
vaults until the late 70's. Around 1959, "Era" records set a new "teenage idols" label
and, in February, they bring Glen in studio with Ernie Freeman's band. Like done earlier
for Jimmy Lee Fautheree on "Vin", they tried to use a country performer with a R'n'B band.
That session gave birth to "Goofin' Around" who should have been a hit. By the time,
Rockabilly was dying' and "Blue Jeans and A Boys Shirt" had failed. For that reason,
that's Glen's rarest record. However, "Goofin' Around" is a good paint of the late 50's
Glen and Gary came back home in 1960 and take steady jobs. They keep playin' Honky-Tonk
and, after a last recording session in 1964, they hang up their guitars. Glen was back in
studio in 1984 and, since he's a regular guest on various worldwide Rockabilly festivals.
He played in London with Rose Maddox and in Spain with the late great Janis Martin. He had
recently recorded with Vikki Lee and Albert Lee and a DVD is on the way in USA. Glen is
one of the most original cat from the 50's and is a living legend. When his song came in
light in France, in 1977, the record jacket wore the mention "Stars of Rock'n'Roll". For
once, France was far ahead than USA where Glen was still an "unknown legend".
If you can't be at the Concarneau's gig, there's a good news for you - Glen Glenn's
three "Era" singles are available again probably for a short time and can be buy from Bim
Bam records (England). The original pressings can't be finding since years and even the
Mariano bootlegs, issued in the early 70's, are collectors items. You got here the chance
to add those records in your collection so don't miss your luck. Like Elvis five Sun
singles, those records bring each time two exciting sides and that set is the most. Even
in that new century when CD and Mp3 are the rule. On the funny side, I can let you know
than even Glen had ask for those new pressings of his legendary records and don't mind
about who's behind that vinyl deal. He's real happy to know his fans, old and young, can
spin again his 50's side just like then - on a turntable.
Let's read how those records were reviewed in the musical magazine Billboard in 1958:
ERA 1061 - I'm Glad My Baby's Gone Away: Glen present the rockabilly with gusto. It could
attract in both pop and c&w market
ERA 1061 - Everybody's Movin': A rockabilly blues is nicely belted by the artist. If
pushed, this may catch on
ERA 1074 - Laurie Ann: Glenn has a pleasant soft sound on the country-tinged ballad. Fem
chorus assistance and light guitar support are effective. Good talent
ERA 1074 - One Cup of Coffee: Rockabilly tune is nicely treated by Glenn with country
string support. It can move in pop and c&w markets.
Glen gave us a trilogy that can easily match with "The Lord of The Ring" or "Star
Wars". He's a true living legend and we will give him a big Welcome in France.
Until then, let's have a cup of coffee and a cigarette!
Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES
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