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John Meeks

Although he hardly ever achieved the renown among rockabilly fans of his predecessor, Cliff Gallup, Johnny Meeks was with Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps far much longer, and contributed a genuine song that finished up nearly as very much a key element of Vincent’s repertoire, “Tell you Mama,” as whatever Gallup played on. Meeks was also an associate from the Champs, the quasi-instrumental clothing well-known for “Tequila,” and afterwards used Merle Haggard, Michael Nesmith, and various other rock and roll and country superstars from the 1960s and 1970s. Johnny Meeks was created in Laurens, SC, and used a guitar young. He initial sang skillfully on WLBG in Laurens, and became a member of Nation Earl & the Group E Ranch Gang, located in Greenville, SC, through the mid-’50s. These were an up-and-coming local action, broadcasting live weekly on WESC radio, and in addition acquired a live every week tv program on Route 13 in Asheville, NC. Meeks may have continued to be in nation music but also for the issues of a Western world Coast-based rock and roll & roll clothing. Gene Vincent’s music group, the Blue Hats, suddenly discovered itself with out a business lead guitarist past due in 1956, when Cliff Gallup exited the lineup for the next period. The Blue Hats went through an interval of inactivity, due to a dispute with Vincent’s administration, however in early 1957 they required a fresh lead guitarist. It had been the band’s tempo guitarist, Paul Look, who had performed pedal steel acoustic guitar in the Group E Ranch Gang before becoming a member of the Blue Hats in past due 1956, who informed Vincent of Meeks’ playing. Look convinced Vincent to operate a vehicle to one from the band’s gigs and audition Meeks. In those days, the guitarist was playing nation music, and his connection with rock and roll & roll got primarily taken the proper execution of hearing Elvis Presley’s pre-RCA singles and viewing “the Hillbilly Kitty” (as Elvis have been known at that time) executing in SC. He liked rock and roll & roll, nevertheless, and took the chance provided by Vincent, giving up the Group E Ranch Young boys and becoming a member of the Blue Hats. Johnny Meeks performed an extremely different design of acoustic guitar from Cliff Gallup. A nation participant who prided himself on his accuracy just as much as the exhilaration he produced, he played inside a very much cleaner way, more of a normal virtuoso, specifically in the studio room, when compared to a spontaneous improvisor in Gallup’s way — not really that Meeks couldn’t enter the nature of an excellent live show, as well as the Blue Hats’ stage shows had been still frantic, bracing occasions. This were what Vincent desired in his information; the music group also forgotten the upright bass for the electrical bass at for this period, and many of these adjustments offered the Blue Caps a relatively tamer audio. Meeks began documenting using the Blue Hats in June of 1957, after weeks of using them on the highway. He continued to be with the music group for a lot more than 1 . 5 years through the Record Day album cut past due in 1958, playing the right rock and roll & roll on the way. Close to the end of this period, he offered Vincent with a genuine track that was among the singer’s last great Capitol edges, “State Mama.” Johnny Meeks might not possess performed on Vincent’s most well-known or groundbreaking edges — that honor visited Cliff Gallup — but he was your guitar player who was simply with him the longest & most visibly, for many complete travels of america and Canada aswell as Australia, as well as for the group’s appearance in the film Popular Rod Gang. Following the Blue Hats disbanded in past due 1958, Meeks arranged a group known as the Melody Toppers and performed nightclubs in the LA area, like the Palomino for two months. Then joined up with the Champs, touring with them for half a year. He also do a two-week tour playing business lead electric guitar for vocalist Jimmy Clanton, and shot a music group picture in the film All the Great Youthful Cannibals, a film centered loosely on the life span of trumpet story Chet Baker, starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Solid wood. Meeks was drafted immediately after that film overall performance, and was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX. In the years pursuing his glory times using the Blue Hats as well as the Champs, Johnny Meeks came back to nation music and became an effective working musician, using Leroy Vehicle Dyke, Lynn Anderson, Bob Luman, David Houston, and, especially, Merle Haggard, with whom he worked well for a long time. He made several short forays into rock and roll music — he is seen playing behind Elvis Presley on several songs (“Small Egypt,” “Big Like, Big Heartache”) in the 1964 film Roustabout, and eight years from then on, Meeks spent half a year using Michael Nesmith’s music group, and made an appearance on his Tantamount to Treason record in 1972. His afterwards nation music engagements included gigs with Barbara Mandrell as well as the Osborne Brothers. Meeks provides continued to be active in to the 21st hundred years, among the last rockabilly superstars from the 1950s to keep employed in music. Located in his hometown of Laurens, SC, he’s an elder statesman of rock and roll & roll, but still gathers accolades from admiring guitarists for function he do on record a fifty percent hundred years earlier.

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