Glen Glenn:
A Week in France
With a Rockabilly Legend

Posted November 12, 2007

If you've got time, let's enjoy a whole report about a Missouri born Hillbilly singer's one week stay in France for a Rockabilly rave. Glen Glenn who recorded great Rockabilly sides for "Era" records in 1957/1958 was back in France, for the first time since 1994, for one show. You could read very often about performers performance on stage but rarely about them whole stay with friends and fans. If the stage show is pure fun for everybody, there is also a lot of joys in the background. I thought you may like to read about Glen's Rockabilly journey in our country and I hope you will like to know the story goes behind the curtain!

First day, Oct 23, 2007, we stayed at home in the morning and Glen enjoyed a Johnny Cash show filmed in Ireland in 1993. Next was a Memphis Recording Service DVD "Tupelo's own Elvis Presley" showing the Sept 29, 1956 show. Here Glen had the pleasure to see once again Bill Black slapping' that old stand up bass. Looking at the DVD's booklet, he was really impressed to see that Oct 3, 1945 picture of Elvis wearing eye glasses. Of course, we talked about Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana, both long time friends of Glen, and about some great DVD as the one produced by Jerry Naylor titled "The Rockabilly Legends", the essential "The Women of Rockabilly", "Hank Williams - Honky Tonk Blues" or "Rebel Beat - The Story of L.A Rockabilly" where he's featured with his friends Janis Martin and Ray Campi. After a quick meal set by paw in the kitchen, we moved to Paris for a sightseeing tour and a fly boat cruise on the River Seine. Due to heavy messy traffic, we had to change our organisation. So we went to the old part of Paris named Saint-Michel and we enjoyed Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris. On our way to the underground, a man tried to bring us in a bar for happy hour drink. We talked a bit in front of the bar but being short in time we choice to move and to forget about our beer. When leaving the waiter told me "You look like Elvis Presley". And I thought: "Gosh, if you knew that grey haired Daddy with me rubbed shoulders with him". Real funny!

From there we moved to the Cartier Fondation to enjoy the Rock'n'Roll 39-59 Exhibition where Glen was welcomed by the magazine "Rock and Roll Revue" crew. There was a cable TV reporter doing footage of Glen coming at that great exhibition. Glen enjoyed the visit and gave autographs on colours pictures and records bring along by fans. Our wives stayed seated watching "Rock and Roll - The Early Years", a one hour long b&w movie about the raise of Rock'n'Roll to the fateful crash of Buddy Holly's plane in 1959. We took pictures in front of the Gene Vincent display for Dickie Harrell, Gene's 1956 original drummer, and Glen was very impressed to see an Eddie Cochran's jacket, Elvis/Buddy/Carl guitars and many other rare items and memorabilias. Linda Chenit, Cartier's press information officer, joined us for a while and we thanked her for her help and kind welcome. The exhibition was closed definitively on Sunday Oct, 28, Glen was probably the last original 50's cat to have enjoyed that fabulous exhibition. From there, "Rock and Roll Revue" takes us for a dinner in a very nice restaurant. Here we enjoyed a real fine supper with french wine and champagne.

Next day, Glen was awake really early in the morning 'cause he won against the jet lag. Like everyday, I brought him some emails from his friends while I was enjoying "one cup of coffee" and we started to talk about Nathan Turk and Nuddie's clothes and, of course, Rosie Maddox and Marty Stuart names came along. We talked a lot about the Maddox Brothers beautiful stage clothes and how Rosie let go her own belongings go away for some cheap money. Glen still owns his beautiful "Bluebirds" and "Cactus" shirts from his Maddox's time. I can't tell more about it but Glen was "hot". That guy had deep affection and admiration for Rose and should be ready to fight with anybody who may be unkind with "The One Rose". His words about Rosie and Fred are full of love and respect and he's probably their #1 fan still living in that old world. We talked about his friends Wynn Stewart, Dickie Harrell, Tommy Sands, Bob Timmers and Alan Clark. With Mary and Glen we talked about how widows could handle them husband legacy and, naturally, up came Maria Helena Holly and Priscilla's name. From there, we go about Buddy Holly musical events in Lubbock and about the still missing Buddy Holly complete work CD box set. We chatted about the Clear Lake tribute shows, Green Bay, Palm Springs and Viva Las Vegas festivals where Glen was featured. That day being Glen 73th birthday, we bring him some gifts like a Rose Maddox 78 rpm's nice titled "The Birthday Card Song" and few other things.

After another cup of coffee, we moved down stairs in the music room to play some records. I played some waxes we talked the night before like "Ittie Bittie Everything" by Benny Joy on Antler, "I Can't Find the Doorknob" by Jimmy and Johnny (Ultra rare Canadian issue on Sparton instead the well know "D" single) and "Lover Boy" by Gene Wyatt on Ebb. On that song cut by night on KWKH radio station, 16 year old James Burton took care of the lead guitar. We talked about Carl Perkins, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, and Sleepy La Beef, too. I showed to Glen a Johnny Horton's personal fish hook sent to me by Tommy Tomlinson's son (Johnny Horton guitar player) and Charline Arthur's original Rockabilly Hall Of Fame certificate sent to me by Bob Timmers. While I was playing' records, Glen was looking at Michel Rose's book "The Encyclopedia of Country and Rockabilly Music" from 1986 where he has an entry. That book is definitively the best book ever written in French about those styles of music and Glen brings a copy at home given to him by the gig promoter. He looked also to Don Cusic's Hank Williams lyric book and Peter Gulranick's "Last Train to Memphis". He gave high review to Peter's book and to Horace Logan book about the Louisiana Hayride. We talked about his work with his cousin Porter Wagoner and Porter's sickness. Glen told me how he left for a tour of the east and mid-west areas with Porter in 1956, culminating with appearances in Springfield, Missouri, on the Ozark Jubilee, networked by ABC. Glen told me how Porter liked his Nathan Turk's shirts and wanted to buy a few when he came in California some months later. Funny 'cause in the 60's, Porter became really famous for his loud and fancy Nudie's clothes ... Now Porter is gone and the great Hank Thompson (another well dressed country star) had left us to join Buck Owens, another one of Glen's friends. While Glen was signing some autographs for a couple of friends who ccouldn't be at the show, I played for him some old 78 rpm's. First was "Moanin' the Blues", one of his favourite, by the great Hank Williams sr and the next one was "More and More" by Webb Pierce. We were truly back in the 50's!

On the way to the airport we were listening a Glen's CD and he told me Bill Justis "Raunchy" owns a cut from one of his songs. We talked about his work in 1956 with Ralph Money, the great steel guitar player, and about his various meeting with James Burton, the Shreveport's guitar wizard. Of course, Wanda Jackson and Big Al Downing came in the conversation too. At the airport, the security officers trapped Glen 'cause he carried a horse shoe on his hand luggage. I asked to the security crew to be kind 'cause those friends were from America and a horse shoe is a "Good Luck Charm" for that old Rockabilly singer who rubbed shoulders with Elvis. Those young lads, around 25 years old, can't believe than Glen had meet Elvis. So he showed them his pics with Elvis, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. All were rollin' big eyes and were having a ball to see a man who had meet the "King" in person. It was really funny!

Glen was on his way to Brest where he was welcomed by his backing band, The Dalann Fly Cats, for some musical runs. Glen had to rehearse with that very good french band and they all did a mighty good job that will really play on the next Saturday. Here came some more anniversary gifts and some parties. Glen was really impressed by the Dalann's ability to duplicate his 50's sound and to handle the great Gary Lambert's guitar solos. His words about them was as kind as those he told about Deke Dickerson and Big Sandy. Quite enjoying!

We came in Concarneau on Saturday afternoon around 4.00 to find Glen and his wife in the auditorium. Roc LaRue, who shared the bill with Glen, was making his sound check and Glen was waiting for his own. We walked outside where a bunch of cool rockin' cats came with a beautiful two tones 58's Edsel. We stopped the car and Glen goes at the wheel for some pictures. Back inside we worked with Mary how my son Camille, wearing a Glen's T-Shirt, and his friend would sell at the show: Glen's pictures like in the old days. As soon as the pictures came out from the sleeve there was some customers asking for few of them and an autograph session was on the way. Those pictures were all sold at the gig and many customers bought the last issue of "Rock and Roll Revue" (a 10 years old fench rockin' magazine) that featured a Glen Glenn story and a beautiful colour pic of him and Gary Lambert with their bluebirds shirts.

We were back at the auditorium around 9.30 PM to enjoy the first part of the show and the crowd went quickly reelin' and rockin'. Roc LaRue made a real great and professional show backed by the Blue Hearted Boys, a french band. His rendition of his classic "Baby Take Me Back", recorded for Rama, was a real highlight of the nite. Everybody enjoyed his energetic show and was ready for more of that boppin' music. So the DJ did his job before Glen came on stage to close the show wearing a nice leather jacket for a couple of songs. After singing "I'm Glad My Baby's Gone Away", he put out that jacket and stands in a light blue short sleeved shirt. After a while Glen stopped the show to pay a very heartful tribute to our friend Janis Martin who played the same stage on October 2005. Janis died in September and it was great to hear Glen's kind words about that legendary Rockin' Lady. Back to his rockin' stuff Glen really had a ball with a hot rendition of "Mean Woman Blues", "Kitty Cat", "If I Had Me a Woman", "Would Ya", and a great version of "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Loud Music". From there the backing band played a very nice "Happy Birthday to You" to Glen before his goes on the classic "Jack and Jill Boogie" with each musician goin' for a solo. That show was a real hot one and Glen left the crowd dead flat and very happy.

Like for Roc LaRue then came the autographs time with a two hours waiting line. Everything came on the table from the first Chiswick LP to ERA's original singles via ACE LP's or Bear Family CD's. A real nice time when Glen was kind with everybody and a perfect ending for that great show.

It was a thrilling experience and I only wish you could have been there where everybody was movin'! Glen had a long musical journey from Joplin (Missouri), were he was born in 1934, to Concarneau (France) were he blew some socks off. That blue jean and white T-shirt teenager, who had turned grand daddy, probably never thought he will be playing' France in 2007 when he bought his first Martin D-28 guitar in 1950. That done Daddy-O and that will stay like a highlight of my rockin' life.

Dominique "Imperial" ANGLARES
Sound of the 50's.

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