Carl Mann

TrackSingle / Album
Gonna Rock And Roll TonightJaxon 502
Rockin' LoveJaxon 502
Mona LisaPhillips International 3539
PretendPhillips International 3546
Blueberry HillLike Mann
I Ain't Got No HomePhillips International 3569
I'm Bluer Than Anyone Can BeLike Mann
Baby I Don't CareLike Mann
I'm Comin' HomePhillips International 3555
Are You Teasing MeMona Lisa CD boxset (Bear Family)

Carl Mann photo



Carl Mann playlist




Artists who flickered briefly then disappeared.

One Hit Wonders, the media called them. Part of the fascination of fifties and sixties music.


Contributor: Dave Stephens

Well Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa men have named you
You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile

Ask any Brit with sufficient grey hair and wrinkles who had the hit with the rocked-up version of Mona Lisa at the tail end of the fifties, and, pound to a penny, the answer would be – Conway Twitty. And, yes, the great Twittyman did indeed have just such a hit over here – #5 in the UK Chart no less – and, given that we’d already fallen for It’s Only Make Believe in a big, big way, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. An expert in the genre ‘rockabilly’ might well have given the same answer but with a tart rejoinder, “Of course, Conway cribbed the idea and much of the arrangement from a guy called Carl Mann and Carl did get a hit in the States”. And that would have been correct, too. Carl’s record clambered up to the exalted position of 25 in the Billboard Chart. However, the fact that Sun and/or London were slow getting off the mark in the UK and didn’t release Carl’s Mona Lisa until after Conway had hit that number five spot, might have had something to do with Carl’s lack of UK sales.

You’ll note I didn’t use the term ‘original’ about the Carl Mann Mona Lisa. It actually sort-of was and sort-of wasn’t, at the same time. Let me hand you over to Sun Records Promotion Manager, Cecil Scaife talking about events that occurred in October 1958 (source: 706 Union Avenue – see footnotes):

“We had invited this guy in from Jackson, Tennessee, but his car blew up on him, so we just had the backing group: Carl Mann, Eddie Bush, and W. S. Holland. Carl did a beat arrangement of ‘Mona Lisa’. He was playing it on the piano and faking a lot of it. I turned the machine on and I remember thinking. This ol’ boy has the potential of cutting a hit if we can get it right. I couldn’t wait for Sam to hear ‘Mona Lisa’, but he wasn’t interested in it.”

This wasn’t quite the way that Carl remembered things but it’s a good story so let’s go with it.

Weeks and months went by till, one day, ex-Sun artist Conway Twitty strolled in and asked if there was any material he could use. Scaife played him the Mann tape of Mona Lisa and Twitty immediately got excited. Scaife told him he could have the arrangement but only if the eventual track went on LP only. Which it did. But it then got extracted onto an EP and started attracting sales. The inevitable single followed. Which forced the hand of Sam Phillips and the Carl Mann ‘accidental’ single saw the light of day at last.

What was particularly unusual about the Carl Mann record, quite apart from the lazily slurring vocal (lacking the stridency of so many of the Sun wannabe rockers), was the Eddie Bush guitar sound which owed hardly anything to the Scotty Moore school but instead imparted a vaguely Mexican, vaguely latin feel whilst retaining a suitable level of rockabilly urgency. Mind you, even labelling this one as rockabilly was pushing the boundaries somewhat.

On reflection what was even more astonishing about the record was the fact that Carl was only 16 years old when he cut it. In comparison, Nat “King” Cole was 31 when he recorded the real original of the song in 1950, and he’d been recording since 1943 (in addition to performing professionally for nearly fifteen years).

Carl Mann was something of a musical prodigy. Born out in the sticks, but not too far from Huntingdon, Tennessee, on August 24, 1942, he was performing regularly on radio station WDXI in Jackson as early as 1952 and had formed his first band, named the Kool Kats, in 1954, at the age of 12. It wasn’t far into the band’s life that Carl decided to teach himself piano because, in his view, pianists were harder to find than guitarists. In Spring 1957, young Carl paid for a record from himself and the band to be cut at Jimmy Martin’s Jaxon Records (in Jackson, though that shouldn’t need saying) and he received 350 copies of the 45 to sell at gigs. The two sides – Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight and Rockin’ Love – were self-penned and both are now regarded as rockabilly classics:


While the A-side displayed all the usual rockabilly tropes, Rockin’ Love was unusual in that the first half (roughly) was performed slowly and deliberately, then, with a Presley-ish “Welllll”, it was into the rocking portion which chugged along quite merrily for another minute or so. It’s likely that Carl had got the idea from El’s I’ll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) which was a slow, and at times ethereal, ballad released in August ˈ56. At 1:50 minutes in, it switched to a hefty rocking beat for what was effectively an all-out finale. And, yes, there’s a monster “Welllllllll” in between. A splendid record and relatively little known in the Presley oeuvre (in part, perhaps, because the single didn’t get released here and only belatedly saw the light of day via the UK album release of Elvis’ Golden Records). In all honesty Carl doesn’t get anywhere near El but he gets marks from me for trying. Sam Phillips must have recognised some quality in Carl’s record since he made attempts to improve it in the Sun Studio and it appeared as the flip to Carl’s second Sun single, Pretend. Unfortunately, it was very much a record in two parts. The opening section slowed the tempo even more and increased the deliberation quotient to a near ominous level, ratcheting up the tension brilliantly, but the second half let it down by turning into something of a muddy shambles. What might have been a great record turned into a so-so one.

Back to Jaxon, where Carl recorded a number of other tracks but none were released. They ranged from basic demos to more worked-up efforts with stylistic variation encompassing hillbilly, sensitive ballads and rock. A good example of the latter, Satellite No.2, can be found on YouTube.

It was while he was with Jaxon that Carl met then unknown Texan guitarist Eddie Bush, and rockabilly legend Carl Perkins. Bush, who would form part of a largely new Carl Mann band, was to be immensely important in the Carl Mann story, not only for his unusual but highly distinctive guitar work but also for his song writing – most of the originals recorded by Carl were written either by Eddie or by the two boys jointly. The friendship with Perkins extended through the Sun years and beyond; the two enjoyed touring together. Perkins’ drummer, W.S. “Fluke” Holland, started working with Carl Mann and became his manager for a spell. It was he who succeeded in getting the entrée to Sun Records, which was where we came in.

The follow-up single from Carl, Pretend, came from exactly the same mould as Mona Lisa, even to the extent that Nat Cole was the singer most associated with the number. It would have been an excellent single if one hadn’t been aware of its predecessor. It sold moderately well considering, but unfortunately Phillips didn’t get the message and continued with the same ‘rocking the oldies’ formula for the next few singles. Sam Phillips didn’t get many things wrong but he certainly did here, to the detriment, unfortunately, of Mann’s career. I’m guilty of some oversimplifying. One gets the impression that Carl went along with Sam probably under an increasingly desperate need to get his career back on track.

It was probably, in part, that depression about the stalled career that led Carl to alcohol; that and an aversion to the touring life. I should add that as soon as the promotional whirl for Mona Lisa was over, Carl was whisked onto the 1959 Summer Dance Party tour, along with Skip & Flip, Jerry Keller, Jo Ann Campbell and other performers. It largely followed the route of the previous year’s Winter Dance Party and there was the grim sight of Holly’s autograph scratched into a changing room wall (source: Rockabilly Hall Of Fame). One more factor that didn’t help Carl in his battle with alcohol was that his musical soul mate, Eddie Bush, suffered from the same temptation throughout his life and never managed to kick the habit.

Back to those Mona Lisa clones: Some Enchanted Evening, South Of The Border, Take These Chains From My Heart, Too Young, and more. They didn’t all see release but Sam & Carl (plus Eddie) kept trying. There was some variation – Eddie would sometimes utilise a pizzicato effect – but Carl tended to make many of the melody lines sound remarkably similar and there was a particular descending guitar phrase which was ever-present. I have something of a love/hate relationship with them. Individually, they often work well, but pile one on top of another and that old ennui sets in. I hope I’m not offending too many with that comment; I’m aware that there are fans out there who revel in the tiny differences between some of these records.

But there were two I couldn’t resist. The first didn’t quite make the cut but you’re still getting the description and a clip. Sentimental Journey could have been a mickey-take of the whole sub-genre. After a few gentle notes from Eddie, Carl kicks off on the piano at a positively suicidal pace. He also would seem to have selected a poor key to sing in since he’s much lower than usual and is in near conversational cum mellow mood. One wonders if he’s in his cups. The middle eight raises the temperature, climaxing with a really show-offy version of the descending guitar plus vocal phrase. (One almost expects applause at this juncture.) Whether Carl was under the weather or not (to use yet another of the usual Brit euphemisms related to drink and its effects), who knows but he was absolutely on top of every last nuance of the vocal and the whole thing rocks like the clappers. This one only has 280 views on YT so I may be in a minority of 280. (As of February 2018 I find myself needing to change that “has” to “had” since the clip has been removed from YouTube and there’s no alternative. It’s not alone either as you’ll see if you keep reading.)

My eventual selection differed from all the others in that it was an original written by Charlie Rich for Carl but using the same melody line as Mona Lisa/Pretend/Some Enchanted Evening/etc. We’re also treated to Charlie on piano instead of Carl, and Eddie wheels out yet another great intro and break. The song is I’m Comin’ Home and it was relegated to the flipside of South Of The Border. One of his best.

Well it’s so very hard to have
To leave the one you love
And you get more lonely
With each passing day
It’s so lonely just sitting
And dreaming of
That girl, a thousand miles away

Moving away from the Mona Lisa sisters, there were some excellent originals recorded but very few ever got a look in. One of the best kept secrets about Carl was the quality of the country tinged ballads, most being ones that he and/or Eddie wrote and produced. Some of these tracks crop up on albums but the majority didn’t see any release for years until they appeared on compilations. I’m thinking of numbers like Crazy Fool (Carl & Eddie and no longer on YT), I’ll Always Love You Darling (from the Jaxon days but re-recorded at Sun and no longer on YT), It Really Doesn’t Matter Now (with Charlie Rich tickling the ivories again and no longer on YT) and If I Could Change You (written by Carl & Eddie but Eddie was broke and sold the rights).

To these ears there are two tracks that stand out from this subset of Carl Mann goodies, firstly the Eddie Bush authored I’m Bluer Than Anyone Could Be:

Even without a series of superb fills from Eddie plus Mr Rich again on the piano this would still have been a great performance from Carl. There’s an understated lack of artifice in his voice and no obvious debt to anyone. This was something that seemed to come entirely naturally to him and it’s a shame such tracks were only available on album or not released at all while Carl still had some visibility to a pop or country audience.

And the second comes from an outside source, the Louvin Brothers. Are You Teasing Me: this is as ‘straight’ a country song as you’re likely to get and, boy, does Carl sing it well. There’s some subtle soaring and touches of melisma in here but nothing as flamboyant as Elvis. Eddie’s guitar complements the vocal every step of the way. I’ve listened to several other versions of the song including Ira & Charlie’s original and, for me, Carl beats them hands down. (Leading us to yet another YouTube clip which has been removed and possibly the one, the absence of which, I regret the most. It also leads me to surmise that the person who has had his/her YouTube account terminated was an owner of the Mona Lisa Bear Family boxset since that’s the only source of some of these tracks.)

I’ve got this far into my feature on Carl Mann and the reader could well be wondering, what about Carl and good old rock and roll, outside of that stuff wrapped up in a latin beat? He could do them all right but I’m inclined to suspect that Sam didn’t really see him in that vein. Proof of that statement is an excellent cover of Sun ‘standard’ Ubangi Stomp which is almost as good as the original from Warren Smith and the better known cover from Jerry Lee. It’s only the “almost” that stopped me including this one. He also cut a pretty decent version of the ‘rock standard’ Kansas City.

On Ubangi Stomp he stuck closely to the Smith version, but on his first take of Blueberry Hill – which didn’t see release at the time – he travelled so far from the one we’ve all heard umpteen times, that you wouldn’t have known that Fats had ever done the song. This was something totally unique; every other version of the song I’ve heard owes something to Mr D. Instead, the number is performed in an Eddie & Carl variant of a country shuffle (they could do a ‘straight’ version of a shuffle, just as well – read on). There were two versions of the song produced, in different recording sessions, months apart. Carl is more familiar with the song by the time the second session rolls around (probably by including it in his stage act), and indulges himself in a more playful vocal, which I find attractive. The seriously raw sounding break from Eddie is yet another indication of the axeman’s talents.

One song that we know stayed in Carl’s act over the years is Clarence Henry’s Ain’t Got No Home, the one for which Mr Henry gained the sobriquet “Frogman” due to the croaking effects that he deployed on it. Carl and the boys use the shuffle approach on this one too, although this time it’s more akin to a Texan blues shuffle – remember Eddie’s state of birth. For evidence that Carl stuck with the song, take a listen to this version which is even in the same key. It’s contained on the LP It’s Rockabilly Country, released in 1981 (more on that album later).

I’ve left almost till last, those tracks (penned usually by Carl or Eddie), which you couldn’t easily pigeonhole. They were obviously attempts by the boys to produce the killer pop record but didn’t always turn out like that. Bear in mind that these guys hadn’t exactly got oodles of experience at doing this sort of thing, so music they were more familiar with like rockabilly, country, or even blues, crept in and sometimes the ‘edges’ showed. I’m thinking of songs like Foolish One which was recorded at the original demo session and reminds me of those very very early Beatles records when they were still learning their trade. Others, like Look At That Moon (penned by Messrs Mann & Perkins) and Walkin’ And Thinkin’ (from Eddie) show greater integration. The one I’ve selected is another from the increasingly prolific Mr Bush, Baby I Don’t Care (and, no, it’s not the Leiber & Stoller-written Elvis song). And I have to concede that this is one of those rare cases where the overdubbed voices do add something. This one didn’t find its way onto a single, but instead appeared on the only Sun/Phillips International LP issued by Carl at the time, Like Mann (1960).

Late in the Carl Mann stay at Sun – he was let go in ’62 – Carl returned to the oldies theme but utilised a much wider stylistic approach. Mountain Dew (or Good Old Mountain Dew as it was originally named) was an old folkie rather than Tin Pan Alley sourced. While it was given a mildly Jerry Lee jog-along rhythm, all traces of the latin approach had been expunged. It’s difficult to avoid the comment that this was an overly apt song for Carl. From the same session, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, was a more obvious candidate for the Eddie Bush latino effects book but it didn’t get them. Was this a way of saying, we’ve grown up, we don’t need that stuff anymore? The two songs formed the B- and the A-sides respectively of Carl’s last Sun/Phillips International single. As a fascinating connection between the rockabilly and the soul eras at Memphis I would just mention that the drummer on those tracks was Al Jackson Jr., who, only a year or two later, would feature in Booker T’s MG’s.

Just two more, late period, honourable mentions: Because Of You was written in 1940 but the known version is the one from Tony Bennett in ’51. Carl and the boys take the Ray Price shuffle route on this one and it works surprisingly well. On Chinatown, My Chinatown (also now removed on YT), Carl is virtually in easy listening land. Eddie does his damnedest to steal the show; he’s everywhere but it’s effective. I do have to own up to a liking for this baby. A sign of age perhaps. Phillips evidently didn’t know what to do with it and the track remained unreleased for years until Bear Family included it in their monster box set entitled Mona Lisa and released in ’93 (see Footnotes).

After his release from Sun, Carl continued touring with Carl Perkins, usually backing him on piano and performing a few of his own numbers. In 1964, he received his draft notice and spent two years in the army in Germany. On return to civilian life he signed a contract with Fred Foster’s Monument Records (the label which provided the platform for Roy Orbison’s string of hits) but only one single resulted plus a number of other tracks which remained in the can. The A-side, Serenade Of The Bells, was a rerun of a track recorded at Sun but on the flip there was a good country ballad penned by Eddie Bush, Down To My Last I Forgive You with Carl’s vocal sitting ever-so-slightly in George Jones land. I’ve no idea why it didn’t sell (but I’m not the world’s greatest expert).

Disillusioned, Carl returned to the family lumber business. However he was emboldened to have another go and signed with ABC in the mid-seventies. A number of country oriented singles resulted, many, like the Monument outtakes, written by Carl with new collaborator, Larry Kee. Just About Out is a good example from the time frame. The George Jones sound was more pronounced on this one and others I’ve found on YT. However, the only single that did anything (and that was a measly #100 in the Country version of the Hot 100) was a revival of an oldie that gave the Platters a hit in the fifties, Twilight Time. Easy listening maybe, but didn’t he do it well, and that middle eight served as a gentle reminder of rocking times.

Which allows me to segue neatly to something the seventies was known for musically: rockabilly revival. Yes, this was the time frame when discs from the rocking era saw the light of day again, usually in LP format and often with outtakes included. Aging rockers were persuaded to stumble into a little bit of limelight again and cross that big pond to be feted in the UK and mainland Europe. Carl Mann wasn’t excluded, and in one sense he did better than most of his peers. Not only did he make those trips to Europe but he was also captured on album, both live and in the studio by the Dutch label Rockhouse. Two LPs were released: 1978’s Gonna Rock ‘N’ Roll Tonight and 1981’s In Rockabilly Country. Side two of the first of the pair featured a live performance in Holland in March ’78 while side one was devoted to studio work. The second album was all studio and had a high proportion of new, or new to Carl, songs along with revamps of a few fifties goodies. Carl was in good voice throughout – he was still only 36 of course on the first of this pair – and the backing outfit, Dave Travis’ Bad River Band were excellent, particularly guitarist Eddy Jones. They were supplemented on In Rockabilly Country by Dutch musicians.

I’m very happy to say that I own both of these albums on vinyl and was tempted to include a track or two in my ten, but felt that, with the numeric constraint, the priority should go to the Sun period. Take a listen to the honky tonking When the Leaves Have Turned All Brown and Carl’s (perhaps irreverent but rather splendid) Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.

But seventies revival fever couldn’t last and Carl disappeared from the music scene, battling with health issues but finding, or re-finding, religion. There was a clutch of albums in the noughties but the voice was going, which effectively dissuaded me listening to more than a handful of tracks. There was an album entitled Rockabilly Renaissance issued in 2016 from a revived Jaxon label and, as the title implied, it was an attempt to rekindle some of that early fire. The album is mainly famous (to me, anyway) for containing a version of Sir Cliff’s Move It. I don’t recall too many people covering that one, so it’s something of a curio.

Carl is still with us though he’s survived a triple heart bypass – I can’t recall where I read that so I should add, reportedly – while Eddie Bush died circa 1982. According to Carl (in the Blackcat Rockabilly Europe feature on Eddie Bush), he is buried in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Blackcat Rockabilly Europe go on to state that “… he will be remembered as one of the most original guitarists of the rock ‘n’ roll era”. Hope they played Mona Lisa at the wake.

Indeed, the partnership that Carl and Eddie forged at Phillips International should be remembered as one of the most original and fascinating ones of the rock ‘n’ roll era but I fear it’s not. I bought the Charly label’s Legendary Sun Performers: Carl Mann LP in the year it came out, 1977, and became an immediate convert. I didn’t dig it out until just before starting on this paragraph. Perhaps not totally to my surprise, I found that seven of my selected songs were contained on that set. Achieving distinctiveness is one of the most difficult things for a pop artist to do. Yet, of the Sun second division artists, as I’m inclined to call them, Warren Smith, Sonny Burgess and Carl Mann did just that. On that LP I bought, Sun researcher and writer Martin Hawkins commented thus:

“Carl specialised in re-recordings. The most important thing about that is not that they sound excellent in their own right, but that they somehow come out sounding not like Carl Mann with an old song, but like Carl Mann, period. Carl Mann in his own style.”



1. A source I’ve used extensively in the generation of this piece is 706 Union Avenue which is a quite amazing online document listing all sessions conducted by Sun and its predecessor, the Memphis Recording Service, plus other significant sessions held in the Memphis area in the time frame. Biographic details of the artists are included plus photos, interviews and more.

2. Nat “King” Cole was a black singer and pianist who attained a high level of popularity from the late forties for singing ballads like the original version of Mona Lisa. Not so many of those ballad buyers are/were aware that Cole had started out with somewhat funkier stuff, like Pitchin’ Up The Boogie so he had a claim to be among the precursors to rock and roll.

3. I should straighten one thing out: Carl Mann recorded for Phillips International, a subsidiary of Sun rather than Sun itself. However, since the label name is a bit of a mouthful and the distinction isn’t of great importance in the grand scheme of things I decided to stick with Sun for the majority of references.

4. In 1954, little Carl Mann performed in the junior Grand Old Opry, on station WSM out of Nashville, Tennessee. It was a show that was aired on Saturday mornings, “and it was just like the Opry only kids singing. They had the Grand Ole Opry band backing us up, everybody.” (from an interview with Carl dated 2007 contained in a feature entitled “Carl Mann : Tennessee Rockabilly” written by Craig Morrison on his website). The track can be found right at the end of the Stomper Time Carl Mann album Gonna Rock ‘N’ Roll Tonight. The announcer kicks off with “All right Carl, go ahead and sing for us. We don’t have much time. Wanna hear your song” and then 11-year-old Carl starts on the song, accompanying himself on guitar. The number is called Even Tho’ and it was made popular by Webb Pierce. Carl also cut it at Sun but it didn’t see release at the time (and, no, I should add that I didn’t buy the album – that was gleaned from the Amazon sample).

5. The material that Carl recorded at Jaxon, the bulk of which didn’t see release at the time, can be found in two places: (1) on the Stomper Time album referred to above, (the album is ‘bulked out’ by live concert material recorded in 1978 in Belgium) and (2) a compilation album devoted to Jaxon Records entitled Hot Rockin’ Music From Tennessee which is also released by Stomper Time.

6. Ref. Satellite No. 2, it should be remembered that this was the era when the word ‘satellite’ changed from being rarely used to being splashed all over front pages. Sputnik 1 (or Satellite 1) was launched by the then USSR on 4th October 1957. It was the first artificial earth satellite.

7. Eddie Bush had already held down a post as staff guitarist at the Louisiana Hayride prior to meeting Carl. He too had a single released on Jaxon, Confused About You c/w Little Darlin’, both of which feature on the Jaxon Stomper Time compilation album. He also had some tracks recorded while Carl and he were working at Sun including his takes on Walkin’ And Thinkin’ and Baby I Don’t Care. With no disrespect to Eddie, his voice would never have set the world alight but it’s a little chilling to hear some of those lyrics from the writer, “Don’t want to stop or I’ll start drinking”. After Carl left Sun, he and Eddie rarely appeared together again, either in concert or in a studio – the single Monument release is one of the few exceptions. Eddie drifted and drank, and Carl lost contact with him for over a decade. When he did find out what had happened to Eddie, he was already, unfortunately, dead.

8. Since Carl was a relative latecomer to Sun, the majority of his tracks were recorded at the ‘new’ Sam Phillips studio at 639 Madison Avenue, Memphis, rather than the original studio at 706 Union Avenue. The writer(s) at the 706 Union Avenue website are quite critical of the output from Madison Avenue in comparison to its predecessor and they have some justification. Sam Phillips also recorded Carl in Nashville, using their musical support team, late in our man’s stay with Sun.

9. Elvis was so impressed with Carl’s I’m Coming Home that he included his version of the song on the album Something For Everybody released in 1961. I had always wondered whether Presley’s It’s Now Or Never was based on Carl’s Mona Lisa sound, but a listen just now suggests that its rhythmical approach was more akin to the baion beat found on plenty of Atlantic records.

10. There are two songs that I’m aware of with the title Ain’t Got No Home; one from Woody Guthrie, and the one that Carl covered, from New Orleans R&B singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry complete with ‘silly voices’ including a froggie one. It gained the Frogman a crossover #20 hit to the national pop chart in late 1956. Clarence also charted with the Bobby Charles written But I Do and You Always Hurt The One You Love, both in 1961.

11. The 706 Union Avenue website referred to in this post is now archived (as of November 2022) at this destination.

12. The Bear Family Carl Mann 4xCD box set entitled Mona Lisa was released in 1993. It contains both sides of the Jaxon single, all the Sun takes excluding alternates, all the Monument tracks and all the ABC tracks.

13. This is Carl on a couple of his influences (from the 2007 interview): “Lefty Frizzell was my idol, my favourite singer back in those days” and “Jerry Lee by the way had a lot of influence on me too in the rock and roll, the rockers that I did later, and maybe even in ‘Mona Lisa’ because of the piano”.

Are You warm, are you real, Mona Lisa
Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art



Just over a year after this post was written, we are sad to report that Carl died on Wednesday 16th December in Jackson, Tennessee. He was 78.

Carl Mann (1942–2020)


Carl Mann at Discogs

Carl Man at 45cat

Carl Mann biography (Apple Music)


#1 Jody Reynolds, #2 James Ray, #3 Richie Barrett, #4 Mickey & Sylvia, #5 Scott McKenzie, #6 Blue, #7 Chris Kenner, #8 Dawn Penn, #9 Shep and the Limelites, #10 The Poni-Tails, #11 The La’s, #12 Thomas Wayne, #13 Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford, #14 Carl Mann, #15 Duncan Browne, #16 Harold Dorman, #17 Ned Miller, #18 Gary Shearston, #19 The Fendermen, #20 Jimmy Radcliffe, #21 Joe Dolce, #22 Sanford Clark, #23 Bob Luman, #24 Jessie Hill, #25 Ernie K-Doe, #26 Irma Thomas, #27 Barbara George, #28 Ray Smith


Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is available as an ebook and is described by one reviewer as ‘probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across’. “RocknRoll” contains further reflections on One Hit Wonders in its 1,000+ pages. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX.

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Bobby Charles, Fats Domino, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich

TopperPost #651


  1. Steve Paine
    Aug 25, 2017

    A great piece on a guy I didn’t remember, but now wish I did.
    Sentimental Journey seems to demonstrate the Jerry Lee influence (footnote 12), not only in the piano but the vocal. No way to know for sure if Carl was in his cups, but, apart from having selected the wrong key for his vocal range, the evidence consists largely of his consistent slurring into the right note from above or below, a signature element of Lee’s singing style. (Hmmmm…maybe The Killer stumbled upon this vocal gimmick while in his cups?)

    • Dave Stephens
      Aug 26, 2017

      Thanks Steve. Glad I’ve turned someone on to Carl Mann. He wasn’t the most important figure in rock history, but he was entertaining and his songs, with the exception perhaps of the Mona Lisa clones, were heartfelt.

  2. Andrew Shields
    Aug 26, 2017

    There is a nice story about the two Carl’s (Mann & Perkins) here. And for Carl Perkins to describe your record as ‘one of his all-time favourite rockabilly tunes’ is very high praise, indeed.
    Will also mention Phil Ochs ‘cover cover version here.

  3. David Lewis
    Aug 28, 2017

    As Andrew has mentioned Phil Ochs covers, I’ll jump in before Peter Viney and mention that the Band do ‘I ain’t got no home’ on Moondog Matinee. A very fine version, I suspect they worked to it through Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry.

    • Dave Stephens
      Aug 31, 2017

      Andrew and David, thanks for the covers but I think the real cover story here is the job that Carl and Eddie did on Nat’s Mona Lisa. It was so good that you really couldn’t find fault with them for attempting to repeat it ad infinitum. Mind you there was a half-way house version of the song here which at least moved the number into the country arena.

  4. Paul MacPhail
    Oct 1, 2017

    I believe I was the first Carl Mann fan and first heard him in 1959. I wrote him through the years and we stayed in touch. In 1994, I finally met him at his home in Huntingdon, TN. I had been working on his biography since 1959, and at this meeting it became an autobiography titled “The Last Son of Sun”. Spent 4 hours interviewing him that day. Since then, I’ve lived with Carl at his house, and spent months with him from 2009-2015. I’ve toured with him and interviewed family members, band members and friends. Carl and I became good friends. His new Jaxon CD 24-page biography book included is lines from my book on him. I have been in the recording studios with him and at his many recent concerts. He’s very humble and well-liked by all who know him. Still making great music. I’ve been his chauffeur on trips and helped set up his stage equipment. In 1990 he developed throat cancer and stayed out of business for years, returning in 2005.

    • Dave Stephens
      Oct 1, 2017

      Paul, thank you very much for getting in touch. Those things you say about Carl being humble and well liked chime with everything I’ve read about the man. And he made great music which seems almost like a bonus. Hope you liked my write-up. Maybe you should have been doing it rather than me.

  5. Richard Sloan
    Jul 15, 2020

    I was first introduced to the music of Carl Mann when I found a 45 of his “Burnin’ Holes in the Eyes of Abraham Lincoln” on eBay. (I am a Lincoln collector and was merely looking for music about him.) Altho you can’t really call it a Lincoln song, I can, and in that vein it is my favorite “Lincoln” song. I made a CD from it and played it over 50 times in my car until I had the lyrics memorized. It is a terrific idea for a song, about a guy sitting at a bar, smoking a rolled cigarette made from a Lincoln five dollar bill, while waiting in vain for hours for his date to come “through them swingin’ doors.” The construction of the song is perfect. Mann’s voice and interpretation are perfect. All of a sudden, while listening to it for the umpteenth time, it suddenly dawned on me that there was something familiar about the musical phrasing and the beat. I finally figured it out — there were strains in it from “When Johnny Came Marching Home Again.” That melody gave birth to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” the song most closely identified with none other than Abraham Lincoln! It was a genius of an idea. I wrote to Mr. Mann and told him I had detected it, and he replied (through a secretary) that I was right about picking up on it. (He signed the letter )
    If you fans haven’t bothered listening to this record, I urge you to do so, and keep your ear peeled for the almost imperceptable strains of that Civil War tune. And maybe it will become your favorite Carl Mann record, too!

    • Dave Stephens
      Jul 16, 2020

      Thanks for your comment Richard. Carl’s Burnin’ Holes In The Eyes Of Abraham Lincoln was the first single from him (in 1974) as part of a campaign to get established in the country field. Carl co-wrote the song with a man called Larry Kee with whom he worked on a number of occasions. I own a couple of late seventies LP’s from Carl and the names (Carl Mann, Larry Kee) appear against several songs all of which I’d categorise as honky tonk country i.e. in broadly the same vein as Burnin’ Holes In The Eyes Of Abraham Lincoln, and all of which I happen to enjoy very much. I’d recommend the Carl Mann “In Rockabilly Country” LP if ever see it on eBay. Having said all that, I hadn’t come across “Burnin’ Holes” before but I wholeheartedly concur with your opinion. Carl could have been a country great.

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