Glen Glenn

TrackSingle / Album
Jack & Jill BoogieMissouri Rockabilly 1955-1965
If I Had Me A WomanThe Glen Glenn Story
I'm Glad My Baby's GoneEra 45-1061
Everybody's Movin'Era 45-1061
Laurie AnnEra 45-1074
One Cup Of Coffee (And A Cigarette)Era 45-1074
Blue Jeans And A Boy's ShirtEra 45-1086
Would Ja'Era 45-1086

 

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-dark-background-rgb-sm

Glen Glenn playlist

 

Glen Glenn photo 1

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

There are times, I confess, when I ponder on my love for rockabilly which doesn’t seem to have dissipated even after exposure to considerably more sophisticated or, dare I say, intellectually more respectable music over the decades. A few years ago I started off a review for a Sun rockabilly compilation with the following words: “I thought I’d cured myself of my addiction to collections with Rockabilly somewhere in the title, way, way, back. Then I came across this set and, even though I knew I’d already have a load of the tracks, I couldn’t resist the bargain aspect …” The reader won’t be too surprised to learn that the set, Sun Rockabilly Breakdown, received five stars and several complimentary remarks. I hasten to add that this love is not entirely indiscriminate; an annoyingly high proportion of the tracks on those usually label-based compilations which clogged the racks in the seventies were either warmed-over hillbilly or broke the trade descriptions act in other ways, so it did take time (and eventually heavy competition from the internet) for the quality of comps to improve.

The 80/20 rule applies just as much to rockabilly as anything else. At least 80% can be ignored with equanimity but what’s left is pretty solid stuff, though very, very little of it got anywhere near the charts. It tends to be forgotten that that fabulous series of Presley Sun singles only sold locally at the time of release and much the same happened with Johnny Burnette and plenty of other guys; several tracks that we now count as classics of the genre didn’t even appear in shops at the time.

Glen Glenn, he of the rather silly but eminently unforgettable name, was in that 20%. I came across him via one of those seventies compilations that I was happily dissing in my first para.

The big plus point about this LP is that it was head and shoulders above most of the others. Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Roll was blessed with a more imaginative sleeve than usual but it wasn’t that which made it stand out. Rather it was the presence of Mr Glenn who received a generous six out of the twelve tracks, including the opener …

Blue Jeans And A Boy’s Shirt, which had a suitably visual almost Hollywoodish touch about it, to the extent that you felt that there had to be a storyline beneath those words. There was none but that was the only disappointment. Genre straddling between outright rockabilly and teen pop, though, retaining the toughness of the first, the original single release ought to have sold in bucketloads but didn’t. Maybe it fell between the cracks. Or maybe it suffered from the common curse with indie labels: no money to give it the promotion it deserved and get it onto national radio.

Well in a-blue jeans and a boy’s shirt, she’s mine
Well in a-blue jeans and a boy’s shirt, she’s fine
Well at the record hop or the drive-in show
She’s always ready to rock ‘n’ roll
Yeah, blue jeans and a boy’s shirt, she’s mine

Orin Glenn Troutman was born in Missouri in 1934 but his family moved to San Dimas, California, not too many miles from L.A., when Orin was in his early teens. At the age of 16, he bought his first guitar and started trying to emulate the country singers he heard on the radio. Before long he was joined in this endeavour by Gary Lambert, a lad he met at high school who was no mean slouch on guitar. By early 1954, the pair had started appearing together as The Missouri Mountain Boys. While the act was initially geared around country music, the boys were early converts to rockabilly after hearing the aforementioned Mr Presley (source for much of the biographical infoBlackCat Rockabilly Europe).

 

Glen Glenn photo 2

Glen (left) and Gary Lambert wearing their Nudie shirts

Over the next three years or so, Glen, often using the name Glen Trout, did everything he could to get noticed and, more importantly, to get a record contract. He toured with his cousin, Porter Wagoner. He also temporarily joined famous country and proto-rockabilly outfit, the Maddox Brothers, as replacement for Cal when he and Rose Maddox left the band – Glen operated as vocalist and rhythm guitarist in the group. And he recorded loads of potential demo material, usually with Gary in tow.

It was to be a couple of those demo tracks, Kathleen and One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette which eventually would land Glen a contract with Era Records, a small outfit operating out of Hollywood. At the time of signing with Era, Glen’s band consisted of himself on rhythm guitar, Gary Lambert on lead, Connie “Guybo” Smith on bass – when he wasn’t backing Eddie Cochran – and Joe O’Dell on drums. This was the band responsible for the sound on the first three Era records, supplemented by Wynn Stewart on rhythm guitar plus overdubbed chanting ladies on some of the tracks.

And what records they were. His threesome in ’58 should be in every rockabilly fan’s collection. Everybody’s Movin’, ostensibly the flip but usually treated as the A-side of the first, was stripped back with a lot of focus on the bass. The guitarist treats the song as an exercise in minimalism but unbends on the break while the drummer saves his heaviest backbeat till the last verse. Lyrically – and both sides were written by Glen – it’s one of those paeans to rock‘n’roll though the “Saturday night at the ole dance hall” moves into typical double entendre territory by the time we reach the chorus, “Everybody’s movin’ an’ everybody’s feelin’ just right”.

With the original A-side, I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone, we’re in inverse blues land with Glen only too pleased that his baby has decided to move out. While this track’s marginally heavier than Everybody’s Movin’ with a rhythm guitar definitely present, both performances have an unforced and entirely natural sounding swing about them unlike the vast majority of the lesser spotted rockabilly guys. Glen himself has touches of both Elvis and Gene in his voice but they’re well integrated, never straying into pastiche.

The A-side of record #2, Laurie Ann, was a definite attempt at teeny ballad glory though it has far more charm than most records I’d slap that label on. Melodically, it bears some resemblance to fellow L.A. rocker, Ricky Nelson’s Poor Little Fool with both records utilising the doo wop progression. Curiously, both records came out in the same month – June ’58 according to 45cat – though I don’t see any element of copying either way. And while Glen doesn’t quite have the Nelson pipes, he’s not so far away as to make him an unacceptable substitute.

But Glen’s second single is really famed for its flip. One Cup Of Coffee (And A Cigarette) was, in the eyes and ears of this reviewer, our man’s finest moment. Melodic rockabilly – not a common blend of noun and adjective – and lyrics that, this time, were definitely cinematic with no ifs or buts. Rhythm guitar man Wynn Stewart was the song provider this time and didn’t he do well:

Well a-one cup of coffee and a cigarette
I’m waitin’ on the one I wanna love and pet
It seems like a year since I seen her face
Her sweet lips I can’t wait to taste
I’m waitin’ on my baby and she ain’t here yet
One cup of coffee and a cigarette

Single #3, Glen’s final offering from ’58, coupled Blue Jeans And A Boy’s Shirt with Would Ja’, both rockers but rockers with an eye on teen buyers. The flip, another Wynn Stewart song, posed the time-honoured request “would you let me take you home” so “we can be there all alone” but did it in such a manner that you felt the young lady could hardly refuse. Glen and Wynn even throw in a double time middle eight so that she should feel they’re trying their hardest. Gary on lead guitar does his bit too: in addition to the boogie line he usually takes on the chorus, there’s some pleasing rumbling throughout the verse to add a bit more oomph to that request.

I was surmising earlier that the lack of fame attached to the Glenn name might have been down to a reluctance (or inability) by his record label to part with money for promotion. That might have been true but the situation wasn’t helped by both Glen and Gary receiving their draft papers for US Army service literally within a few short weeks of their first recording session for Era. While they were able to record tracks for the third single during a brief period of leave in April (with the tracks for the second having been cut during the Everybody’s Movin’ session in January), the situation did result in Glen being unavailable for any promotional work. So, three fine double-sided records effectively fell by the wayside until avid record collectors dug them out and someone had the bright idea of including them in Hollywood Rock ‘n’ Roll.

When Glen returned to civvy street he largely moved away from music with the result that there were to be only two further ‘official’ singles, both on Era’s sister label, Doré. 1959 saw the release of Goofin’ Around coupled with Susie Green From Abilene, with backing from the Ernie Freeman Band. The A-side was a teen pop affair though not entirely without charm (and it did have Plas Johnson on sax), while the flip, a cod country item, was even more forgettable. 1964’s I Didn’t Have The Sense To Go / I’ll Never Stop Loving You suggested more desperation with the A-side being an attempt to react to the Brit Invasion and the flip retreating into the possible safety of ballad land.

After Glen’s rediscovery by British and European fans, a couple of LPs were made, both in the UK. For the first of these, Everybody’s Movin’ Again, released on Ace (UK) in 1984, Glen was reunited with Gary Lambert and Connie Smith. Much of the content consisted of fifties rock covers and, while capably done, didn’t really add anything to the story of Glen Glenn. The LP is now available in CD twofer format along with Ace’s collection of his fifties output entitled The Glen Glenn Story. The second ‘new’ LP was entitled Rose Maddox & Glen Glenn – Rockabilly Reunion – Live In London and released by Magnum Force in 1988. It was recorded at the Camden Workers Club in Kentish Town and Glen had the whole of the second side. The content – not surprisingly due to it being a live session – was almost entirely devoted to his Era singles.

For my final selections I need to backtrack. I did refer to “potential demo material” recorded usually in home studios. In addition, tapes were kept of certain radio shows on which Glen and Gary appeared. Much of this material was lovingly compiled and released by Stomper Time Records and it can be found in Glen Glenn: Missouri Rockabilly 1955-1965, though a few of the better tracks appear on Bear Family’s Glen Rocks which gives a much better all-round view of our man.

According to the splendid discography of Glen put together by Tapio Väisänen, the country ballad Talk To Your Heart was the first track cut by the boys at KLXA Radio, Pasadena in January 1955. This is it and, yes, it’s on that Stomper Time set (otherwise it wouldn’t have found its way onto YouTube). We have to wait until ’56 until the first rockabilly/rock and roll appears. This is a live take from a year later of Glen with his Elvis hat on performing Baby Let’s Play House with accompaniment, according to Tapio, from the Maddox Brothers.

For me, the best session prior to those held in the Gold Star Studio for Era (see Footnotes), was one that in Tapio’s words, took place in the “Gary Lambert Studio” on 12th May 1957. Three tracks were cut and they are now spread between Stomper Time, Ace and Bear Family. All three are good with a standard not far off the Era singles. I’d give an honourable mention to the immaculate Don’t You Love Me (with a clip that shows Glen meeting Elvis) but I’ve saved my selection vote for If I Had Me A Woman, the boys’ version of the Mac Curtis rockabilly classic. It did give me pause for thought, in that I’m much more inclined to go for originals rather than covers in the rockabilly world, but I decided eventually that Glen should share the applause with Mac on this one. The fact that Gary absolutely excels himself on this little baby might just have confirmed the track’s selection.

And, finally, it’s back to the beginning, or almost. Jack & Jill Boogie was in the set in the May ’55 appearance by Glen and Gary on KXLA Radio. Rockabilly was in the process of officially being born elsewhere – Elvis had just released his fourth Sun single – but Glen and Gary were just starting to put their toes in the water. No it wasn’t rockabilly, not quite, but some of the tropes were there including a distinct whiff of electricity and the boys’ ease and comfort with this sort of material was immediately apparent.

I’m pleased to finish by stating that Glen’s still out there rocking, even if clips from 2015 show him clutching a stick.

 

FOOTNOTES

1. Era Records was set up in Hollywood by Herb Newman and Lou Bedell in 1955. In the mid-seventies, Newman, who had bought out Bedell, sold the company to K-tel. The label’s biggest hits included Gogi Grant’s Wayward Wind – number one in 1956 – and Ketty Lester’s Love Letters.

2. The song “Kathleen” appears as “Kathaleen” in some accounts of the Glenn story, including the BlackCat Rockabilly Europe one, and it also appears that way in at least one compilation – Glen Rocks from Bear Family. However it’s the same number as the one recorded by Wally Lewis clearly entitled Kathleen, on Tally Records (out of Bakersfield) in January ’58, and subsequently picked up by Dot. The record gave Lewis a Top Twenty placing and is his only real claim to fame.

3. The two sessions which produced Glen’s three Era records were held in the Gold Star Studio in Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles in January and April 1958. Gold Star was founded by David Gold and Stan Ross and opened its doors in 1950. The Studio hosted sessions for many of the biggest names in popular music and jazz, most notably Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys – portions of Pet Sounds were recorded there – and Phil Spector who used the studio for the bulk of his early to mid sixties sessions.

4. Mac Curtis was a rockabilly artist who was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1939. His debut single in May 1956, was If I Had Me A Woman on King Records of Cincinnati. While, like several other rockers in later life, he switched to country with some success, he also cut several albums in rockabilly mode for Ronnie Weiser’s Rollin’ Rock Records.

5. Wynn Stewart, who has a bit part in this story, was actually a major figure on the L.A./Las Vegas country scene. While he was part owner of a Vegas club in 1962, he hired a young Merle Haggard as bass player for his band. Wynn went on to be something of a godfather to the Bakersfield scene, writing Haggard’s first hit, Sing A Sad Song in 1963. Stewart’s own first hit came way back in ’56 with Waltz Of The Angels. For further info on Wynn, see the fine Wiki entry on the man. He’s another one of those relatively little-known artists who warrants appearance in the Toppermost Hall of Glory.

6. A certain Mr Zimmerman – another artist who changed his name – has been known to perform Everybody’s Movin’. This is a live clip from 1988. Glen opened for Bob at the Hollywood Palladium in 1995 (see photo below).

7. In my reference to the clip of Don’t You Love Me, I stated that it included pictures of Glen meeting Elvis. For further information on that meeting, see an excellent online article on Glen Glenn’s Meeting With Elvis from the Fan Club site in 2017 (see also photo below).

(For information contained in Footnotes 5 to 7, I’m indebted to Our Esteemed Editor who, as far as research is concerned, gets to places that other beers wouldn’t reach.)

8. The song Jack And Jill Boogie originated with a single from harmonica player and vocalist Wayne Raney in 1948 (and, coincidentally, was on King Records). Wayne played harmonica for the Delmore Brothers in the period immediately after World War II but went solo in 1948. Jack And Jill Boogie, on which he received backing from the Delmore Bros, was one of several of Wayne’s singles to hit the Country Chart. The Delmore Brothers, Alton and Rabon, were country music pioneers with a career that ran from the late twenties to 1952 when Rabon died of lung cancer. They’re very much deserving of a Toppermost in their own right.

9. I said that the ‘official’ singles finished in 1964. That, in fact, was it until 2012 – apart from a rerelease of Blue Jeans And A Boy’s Shirt in ’75 – when a single called My Eyes Are Open (But There Ain’t Nobody Home) from Big Sandy and Glen Glenn and the Fly-Rite Boys suddenly popped up. This is it. According to uploader “that crazy beat”, it was “written by Glen in the mid 60´s and recorded as a demo at his home in Ontario, CA.” The band, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, started out as a rockabilly revival act in the late eighties but then dug deeper into rockabilly’s origins (source: Wiki).

10. For completeness I should mention that Bear Family put out their own set devoted to Glen’s early material, a 36 tracker entitled (with a nod to Joe Maphis) Dim Lights, Thick Smoke And Loud Loud Music.

11. In addition to having a bass man in common, there was a degree of parallelism between Eddie Cochran and Glen Glenn. Both were born ‘out in the sticks’ as it were but operated in California in broadly the same time frame, both cut a lot of demo tracks before landing a recording contract, both used the Gold Star Studio (and with Eddie, the usage was extensive), both used the Gary Lambert Studio (for confirmation see the Praguefrank Discography of Eddie C) – and there’s one more slightly more unusual connection: circa 1955, Eddie worked with Hank Cochran (no relation) as the Cochran Brothers with Hank later going on to considerable fame as a songwriter – I Fall To Pieces co-written with Harlan Howard is one of his – and actually co-wrote one of Glen’s songs, Goofin’ Around. Most lists of Cochran songs don’t show Goofin’ Around but a check with the BMI database confirms that he was one of the pair of writers. What’s more, YouTube actually has a clip of Hank singing the song.

12. It would have been great to have filled this Topper with live clips from, say, the late eighties when Glen was over here and performing. However, almost the only ones I could find were from well after the millennium and on them he does show his age somewhat (which is perfectly reasonable). Anyway, I did find this undated clip of Glen & band performing Jack & Jill Boogie and am able to inform the reader that the gum-chewing bass player is Gator McKinley who has worked with the Coffin Robbers. Now that is some claim to fame!

 

Glen Glenn photo 3

Glen with Elvis in 1956

 

 

Glen Glenn photo 4

Bob Dylan & Glen Glenn (Glen opened for Dylan at the Hollywood Palladium on 19th May 1995)

 

Rockabilly Hall of Fame: Glen Glenn

Glen Glenn Discography

Glen Glenn singles at 45cat

Glen Glenn biography (iTunes)

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. 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

TopperPost #784

3 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Apr 28, 2019

    Dave, thanks for this. Some excellent music here – reminded me at times of Rick(y) Nelson’s rockier side. And what a great picture of Bob and Glen…

  2. David Lewis
    Apr 28, 2019

    Wonderful. The shadow of Elvis looms large. The guitar solo in Everybody’s Moving is great! And I love the riff, that sliding motif.
    Orin Troutman was a much better name! But there are all kinds of reasons to change a name.

    • Dave Stephens
      Apr 29, 2019

      Thank you gentlemen. When I started out on the Glenn Topper I only knew the man from a tiny handful of fine records – the connections emerged as I started digging.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

↓