(The Don’s Hit List with The Don & The Grizz Ep. 263): REX ALLEN JR

Blessed with a golden voice and a true dedication to his music and career, Rex Allen Jr. is the consummate actor, singer, songwriter and entertainer.  Rex joined us again as we talk about the Country Rewind Records release of “Smokin’ Country Swing – The Lost Tracks”  


Start the show withLet’s Go Rockabilly” – written by John Gluck, Jr. and Diane Charlotte Lampert and performed by Tex Williams.  We begin with the Intro – 0:30.  

We take a trip down country music history lane and Rex shares some great stories.  

We talk about country music that took place early on in Tennessee, Texas, and California.
We also talk about how Les Paul played on numerous projects as a session player.  

11:12 – I asked Rex when all of the legendary country and western performers such as Tex Williams came over to the house to visit his dad, the they break out into song and play live.  Rex responds and then talks about a guitar that is still around from the 1940s that he still plays to this day:  1957 Martin D18 “Sounds absolutely wonderful and still record with it to this day.  Every song I wrote in my entire career I wrote on that guitar”  

Then that digresses to Sears Silvertone guitars and we focus in on Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and the guitar solo.  That is a Sears Silvertone guitar! Rex talks about a time when Tex Williams and several others that had that low baritone voice once made a building shake.   Rex talks about the time Merle Travis played “Sixteen Tons” in his living room.  

22:26 –    Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette) – Sollie Paul “Tex” Williams and Merle Travis  and we go to 0:30 – 1:30 of the track 

25:04 –   Roll On Buddy (Nine Pound Hammer) – Merle Robert Travis and we go to 1:28 of the track.  “Tex Williams was a subwoofer before there were subwoofers”  – Don 

26:37 – Long John – Eddie Miller and Enos William “Skeets” McDonald 2:00 to the end has that Tennessee Earnie Ford vibe and we discuss this further.  

We talk about what touring was like in the ‘40s and ‘50s.   Then shares a great quote from Conway Twitty regarding touring.  

34:08 – Alimony –  Sollie Paul “Tex” Williams and Buddy Ebsen.   Rex shares some great stories and info about Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies, Barnaby Jones).  

These recordings are a follow-up to Country Rewind Records previous releases of such greats as Conway Twitty, Johnny Russell, Mickey Gilley, Tex Ritter, Merle Travis, Billy Don Burns, Carl Smith, Waylon Jennings, Connie Smith, Jeannie C. Riley and more which have all received great reviews by music critics worldwide.

Country Rewind Records has dedicated itself to bring classic country with this contemporary feel to not only the past country fans but also to the new country listeners.

Stay current with Country Rewind Records on their website countryrewindrecords.com and social media platform Facebook.  

Tex Williams Bio

Although not nearly as well-known as figures like Bob Wills, the Maddox Brothers, and Merle Travis, Tex Williams was an important Western swing performer. Like all the aforementioned musicians, he helped develop country music from its rural, acoustic origins to a more danceable, city-fied, and electrified form with a much wider popular appeal. At his peak in the late ’40s, he also recorded some of the most enjoyable country swing of his time, distinguished by his talking-blues vocal delivery. Much of his style can be heard in the Western swing-influenced recordings of revivalists like Asleep at the Wheel, Commander Cody, and Dan Hicks. The singer and guitarist caught his first big break after moving to Los Angeles in 1942. At that time California was populated by many former Texans and Oklahoman’s working in the defense industry, creating a need for Western swing entertainment in a region not noted for country music. One of the musicians on this circuit was fiddler Spade Cooley, who employed Jack Williams as his singer, nicknaming him “Tex” to ensure easy identification by the many Texans in their audiences. Several of Cooley’s mid-’40s Columbia singles featured Tex on vocals. Capitol offered a contract to Williams as a solo artist, which strained the relationship between Tex and the tempestuous Cooley to the breaking point. Cooley fired Williams in June 1946, a move which backfired badly, as most of Cooley’s band opted to follow Tex rather than remain with their difficult boss. Cooley achieved his greatest subsequent notoriety when he was convicted of beating his wife to death in a drunken fit in 1961. Tex’s renamed backing band, the Western Caravan, was one of the best units of its kind. Numbering about a dozen members, it attained an enviable level of fluid interplay between electric and steel guitars, fiddles, bass, accordion, trumpet, and other instruments (even occasional harp). At first, they recorded polkas for Capitol, with limited success. They found their true calling when Williams’ friend Merle Travis wrote most of “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)” for him, emphasizing Tex’s talking-blues delivery and heavier boogie elements. The song was a monstrous commercial success in 1947, and indeed one of the biggest country hits of all time, making number one on the pop charts. That set the model for several of Williams’ subsequent hits: hot Western swing backup, over which Tex would roll his deep, laconic, easygoing narratives of humorous, slightly ridiculous situations. As enjoyable as these were, they were just one facet of the Western Caravan’s talents. The outfit was also capable of generating quite a heat on boogie instrumentals and more straightforward vocal numbers in which Williams actually sang rather than spoke. Williams’ commercial success began to peter out in the early ’50s, and he left Capitol in 1951. He continued to record often in the 1950s, mostly for Decca, without much success; in 1957, the Western Caravan disbanded. He pressed on, however, returning to Capitol in the early ’60s, and recording a live album that included Glen Campbell on guitar. He had one final country hit, the memorably titled “The Night Miss Ann’s Hotel for Single Girls Burned Down,” which entered the Top 40 in 1971.

About Country Rewind Records:

Country Rewind Records (CRR) was founded by Thomas Gramuglia of Hindsight Records in 2014, Gramuglia obtained a treasure chest of unreleased recordings from recruitment radio shows from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The superb CRR collection of original master recordings contains music from more than 100 country music legends and trendsetters (including intimate performances by country music greats such as Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Johnny Russell, Mickey Gilley, Tex Ritter, Merle Travis, Billy Don Burns, Carl Smith, Waylon Jennings, Connie Smith, Faron Young, Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty and many more). These recordings were never released for commercial use. After a diligent quest to collect appropriate and legal permissions from artists and/or their estates, CRR has now recorded and produced multiple, quintessential, “must-hear” projects. With the mission to transfer these never-heard-before tracks to a high quality, state-of-the-art recording; complemented by contemporary instrumentation and background vocals, Country Rewind Records will release this historical American music to America’s music generations of the future. For more information visit countryrewindrecords.com.

Fans can find The Don’s Hit List with The Don & The Grizz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their official website.

Fans can find Rex Allen Jr on Facebook and his official website.

Fans can find this episode featuring Rex Allen Jr via SoundCloud below:

Author: The Don

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