Gene Summers' CD|
Posted April 24, 2008
Have you heard the news? There's good rockin' tonight with that new
CD coming from Garland, TX. Released on February 1st, 2008, exactly
50 years after the release date of Gene's and his Rebels first
single, "School of Rock'n'Roll" (Jan 11-100), that CD is accurately
titled "Reminisce Cafe". Produced by Phil York with nice liner notes
from DJ Ron Chapman, that CD offer 100% Texas rockin' music shaped
with the support of great musicians as Bobby Rambo or Joey
D'Ambrosio. It's very interesting to note the presence of Red
Callendar, Plas Johnson, Rene Hall and Earl Palmer, all legendary
session musicians, who backed Gene on his "Jan" sessions in 1958.
booklet is a neat one with some 50's old pictures and two nice
records labels shoots. But a record is at first music so let's talk a
little about the first song who give his title to the CD "Reminisce
Cafe", a nice ballad were you will meet Elvis, Little Richard, Gene
Vincent, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley or Jerry Lee. A nice place to be!
Next song is a cover of the great "She Bops a Lot" first recorded by
Ronnie Pearson, in 1958, for "Herald" records. Next three songs are
originals from Gene and his wife Dea's pen and cover the whole
spectrum of 50's music from ballad to guitar lead rockabilly and
sax/vocal chorus movin' rockin' ditty. "I Won't Take Any Less"
carries the shades of Elvis and "(It's Love Baby) 24 Hours a Day" is
a moving cover of the Ted Jarrett's song first recorded by Louis
Brooks, in 1955, for "Excello". From Gene's own pen, "Heartbreak City
Limits" offer a more country feeling before Gene took a stroll on
Elvis Presley repertoire with "Love Me Tender". Next songs are all
strong rockers, the four last coming from a 2002 session cut in
Sweden and already issued on his album "Do Right Daddy".
bring a more 50's sound `cause those "ice cold northern cats" were
feed with vintage 50's rockabilly since them prime. He sure wish all
to be there at The School of Rock'n'Roll in 1958. For those of you
who don't know what happened then in Dallas, let me give you a ride
on Gene Summers early days.
Gene was born in Dallas (Texas) on January 3, 1939 and started to
play at civic clubs and dances around 1955/56. He formed his first
band, The Dixie Rebels, when at Arlington State College. The band
featured Gene on vocal and guitar, James McClung on lead guitar, Gary
Moon on drums and Benny Williams on bass. Around 1956, they come with
two demos recorded in Duncanville "Flippin'" (an instro) and "Suzy
Q". They were also welcome in April 28, 1956 to WFAA-TV program "Hi
School Hi Lites" and started to play on a Dallas KTTK-TV show
named "Country Picnic Show" when they were spotted by a talent scout
for "Jan" records. That tiny label started by a Texas oilman named
Tom Fleeger will live for two years, opening offices in Dallas and
Hollywood, with a handful of artists. Two sessions will be set in
California in 1958 and will give birth to "School of
Rock'n'Roll"/"Straight Skirt" (Jan 11-100), "Nervous"/"Gotta Lotta
That" (Jan 11-102) and "Twixteen"/"I'll Never Be Lonely" (Jan
106). The band took the name of "The Rebels" and Gene's first record
got good review in Cashbox and Billboard and he will soon work with
Duane Eddy, Bobby Darin, Connie Francis, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins,
Chuck Berry or Jimmy Reed to name a few. By mid 1959, the band
split from Jan records and Gene and James McClung got day jobs before
becoming, for three years, the house band at Guthrey, a popular
nightspot in Dallas.
On July 22, 1961, Gene married Deanna and they have three sons. One
of those, Gregory Shawn even joins on that new CD.
After leaving the "Jan" label, Gene recorded for "Chess" and "Alta".
His sides "Dance, Dance, Dance"/"Juke box Memories" (Alta 106)
and "Almost 12.00 O'clock"/"Chapel Bells Ringing" (Lafayette 645)
were recorded at Bob "Git It" Kelly's Top Ten Studio, in Dallas, in
1962. Bob was then working as DJ on WRR radio with Jim Lowe, then
program Director, who owned Alta records.
In October 1963, Gene got his second regional hit for Donnybrook
Records (556) with "Big Blue Diamond"/"You Said You Loved Me". Those
two songs were re-issued in 1964 on Capri 502 and Jamie 1273. "Big
Blue Diamond", a country-pop number, was probably his greatest
success. Back in studio in 1964, Gene cut the ultimate and late
rockin' classic record "Alabama Shake"/"Just Because" (Capri
507). "Alabama Shake" was already cut in 1958 as "Rock-a-Boogie
Shake" but stayed in the vaults. That raucous song is a vintage piece
of Rockabilly music but went nowhere. Through the 60's and 70's, Gene
recorded for various labels and even had two LP's produced by Michel
Cattin in 1976 and 1977.
The songs were recorded on Texas and were
issued on the Swiss Records label Lake County (502 & 504). In
February 1980, Gene played is first gig in France, at Mons, for The
Rockabilly Cat's Club. That night Gene sung School of Rock'n'Roll,
Rockin' Daddy, Great Ball of Fire, Rip it Up, Mystery Train and
Alabama Shake to name a few I remember. Soon Gene was back in France
with Sonny Fisher, Eddie Fontaine, Jack Scott and Billy Hancock to
headline the 1st International Rockabilly tour in that country. Gene
played also in England, Holland, Finland and was back in France in
1993, in 2006 (with Billy Hancock and Sleepy LaBeef) and played
again in 2008. Gene also staged the legendary Viva Las Vegas
Rockabilly weekender in 2004 with his long time friends Sid & Billy
King and Huelyn Duvall, another great rocker from Texas.
Few 50's and 60's recordings were issued on vinyl on "White Label"
(8826), a Dutch label, and new recordings were issued on two 10
inches LP's by "Big Beat", a French label, around 1981. Since CD's
coming, many Gene's songs came in various CD but the best to buy are
probably "The Ultimate School of Rock & Roll" (Crystal Clear Sound
9723) or "School of Rock & Roll" (Roller Coaster 3035) who offers a
lot of unreleased stuff from Tom Fleeger's vaults.
But, if like me, you are a vinyl and pictures addict, don't miss the
fabulous EP issued on Roller Coaster records (RCEP 127) in 1999. That
EP with some great pictures will bring you "School of
Rock'n'Roll", "Straight Skirt", "Nervous" and the fabulous
unreleased "Fancy Dan". Here's an ultimate rocker recorded for "Jan"
who get along with Gene Vincent's "Rollin' Danny" saga recorded
for "Capitol". Don't forget than in 1958, Gene Vincent was the
hottest act in Dallas Big D Jamboree. Here he won a lot of followers
like Gene and Bobby Rambo or The Catalinas.
Then many local singers
traded Elvis licks to follow the steps of Gene Vincent for his
vocal abilities and his wild stage antics. Listening to him and his
Blue Caps ravin' on "Blue Jean Bop", "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin'
On'", "Dance To The Bop" and "Lotta Lovin'" helps you understand how
they got the Dallas crowd in the palm of them hands. "Man", recalls
Gene Rambo, "After I saw Gene Vincent I said forget Elvis - It was
pure excitement from the start to finish". His brother Bobby
remembers too: "All of us were Vincent Nuts, Man! If he made some
wild stage move, we'd pick up on it and do it too!".
On that brand new CD " Reminisce Cafe", Bobby Rambo play guitar for
Gene Summers and Bob "Git It" Kelly help for the promotion. That CD
will probably enjoy Bobby Crown, another Fort Worth great Rockabilly
cat, too. Seems 1958 is back again. I have heard the news - There's
good rockin' tonight!
For immediate shipping, order from:
Autographed copies are available upon request.
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