Tuesday, February 5, 2008

78s fRom HeLL: Johnnie Lee Wills - The Thingamajig b/w She Took (circa 1952)

Western Swing bandleader Johnnie Lee Wills remained behind in the Texas-Oklahoma area when his older brother, Bob Wills, moved his band to California in 1940.

After leaving Bob's band, Johhnie Lee formed his own group and enjoyed a great deal of regional fame.

A recording contract with Decca Records in 1941 was soon interrupted by World War II.

Post-war (and post-Decca) he had some national acclaim with a string of recordings on the Bullet label, before signing with RCA in 1952.

The popularity of the Western Swing sound began to wane in the 1950's, but via regular radio appearances in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Johnnie Lee Wills retained his status in the region throughout the decade.

- See also: A bio page at Texas Playboys.Net

Listen to:
Johnnie Lee Wills and his Boys -
The Thingamajig
(vocal by Curley Lewis and Trio)

(RCA Victor 78, circa 1952)

(click for audio)

Listen to:
Johnnie Lee Wills and his Boys - She Took
(vocal by Leon Huff and Trio)

(RCA Victor 78, circa 1952)

(click for audio)

ADDENDA, 5.2.09: Thanks to Michael Bates and his BatesLine blog for linking to this post and providing song lyrics and recording session details - -

"'The Thingamajig' was written by prolific songwriter Cindy Walker. ("You Don't Know Me" and "Dream Baby" are perhaps her two best known songs.)
"It was recorded on Feb. 3, 1952, at the KVOO studios, for RCA. (Was KVOO still in the Philtower in '52?)
"Lead vocals by Julian 'Curley' Lewis. Johnnie Lee Wills is asking the questions and singing on the trio part. Don Tolle on electric guitar, Tommy Elliott on steel guitar, Clarence Cagle on piano, C. Adams on bass, Waid Peeler on drums, Curley Lewis, Henry Boatman and James Guy 'Cotton' Thompson on fiddle.
"Don Harlan played clarinet on this session, but I don't hear it on this song. He might be singing with the trio, along with Johnnie Lee Wills and Leon Huff, the band's usual vocalist."

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