ROLAND JANES 1933-2013
by Colin Escott
Sometimes, musicians would come into Phillips Recording in Memphis, aware that the engineer, Roland Janes, had been a big deal guitar player long ago. They’d hand him a guitar and say, “I wanna hear you play.” Roland would hand it back and say, “You’ve HEARD me play.” Just about everyone heard Roland Janes play. If not the solo on Whole Lotta Shakin’ or High School Confidential then the bridge on Raunchy or the deliriously over-the-top solos on Flying Saucer Rock and Roll. And don’t forget that he played on and produced Harold Dorman’s Mountain Of Love, and issued it on a label he co-owned. He also produced Travis Wammack’s Scratchy, Matt Lucas’s I’m Moving On, and Jerry Jaye’s My Girl Josephine—among the best records to come out of Memphis in the early to mid 1960s.
Sometime in the early ‘80s, I went to Phillips Recording on Madison Avenue in Memphis. I knew Roland had just started back there after twenty or more years, and that no one had ever interviewed him (Martin Hawkins and I had phoned his house in 1971 only to be told he had no interest in talking to us). So I walked into the little rec room across the hall from the studio. A bunch of guys were sitting around a table eating and smoking. I said, “Is Roland Janes here?” Someone with his back to me said, “No man, Roland’s gone for the day.” I realized later that was Roland Janes.
If he felt like talking—and later that week we began an intermittent thirty-year conversation—no one was a better source for Memphis music history or gnomic wisdom about life in general. Unlike the artists who refract everything through the prism of their ego, he was self-effacing to a fault. He also had the driest wit in Memphis. The last few Christmases, I received a card from him with a self-composed short story inside. One time, he asked how to get a work of fiction published. I told him he’d have to go on the road to promote it, and I don’t think the idea resurfaced after that. He lived at the same address for decades with the woman he’d married in 1959, and, as far as I’m aware, hadn’t left Memphis in years. Continue reading
Nashville, Tenn. (April 26, 2013) – Country Music Hall of Famer, Grand Ole Opry member, and Kennedy Center Honoree George Glenn Jones died Friday, April 26, 2013 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was hospitalized April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Born September 12, 1931, Jones is regarded among the most important and influential singers in American popular music history. He was the singer of enduring country music hits including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Grand Tour,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “Tender Years” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the latter of which is often at the top of industry lists of the greatest country music singles of all time.
“A singer who can soar from a deep growl to dizzying heights, he is the undisputed successor of earlier natural geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell,” wrote Bob Allen in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Encyclopedia of Country Music.”
Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas, and he played on the streets of Beaumont for tips as a teenager. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to Texas and recording for the Starday label in Houston, Texas. In 1955, “Why Baby Why” became his first Top 10 country single, peaking at number four and beginning a remarkable commercial string: Jones would ultimately record more than 160 charting singles, more than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music. Continue reading
Give Me Flowers While I’m Living, an ancient pop song adapted by country singers from the Carter Family to Flatt & Scruggs, might have been the keynote for Honoring a Legend—A Tribute to Cowboy Jack Clement. Held at one of the Grand Ole Opry’s early homes, Nashville’s War Memorial auditorium, on January 30, it was a tribute so fulsome you’d believe you were at a memorial service. Instead, the Cowboy made his entrance ahead of a polka band, and sat in an armchair as a dizzying array of artists, friends, and dignitaries sung his songs and his praises. The audience included Sam Phillips’ longtime companion, Sally Wilbourn, and his son, Jerry, who were seated with Scotty Moore and his wife. Managers, label guys, songwriters, musicians, and journalists turned out in profusion. All proceeds went to Clement’s favorite charity, one that provides healthcare for musicians who have fallen upon hard times.
She told me while we were talking that she is also going to mention Bear Family Records and their great contribution in keeping the very precious music for all the world to be able to hear, in the upcoming new Country Family Reunion , which she will be part of the filming Oct 11!!! AND I couldn’t agree with her more!!! So glad she is planning to do so!!!
My Bear Family Collection would already be huge if I had my way and abilities to do so…..I am so very thankful for what is being done to keep all this very precious history captured by Bear Family!!!
Thank you for the fun privilege to share these special photos with you , and I will be sending you some more!!!
Getting the word and the awareness of Bear Family Records out there in places that may not already know!!
Have a really great day!!!
The Award for Distinguished Service to Historic Recordings is presented annually to an individual who has made contributions of outstanding significance to the field of historic recordings in forms other than published works or discographic research. The 2012 ARSC Distinguished Service Award was presented to Richard Weize. founder and CEO of Bear Family Records, probably the most important reissue label in the world for roots- oriented music. Richard began collecting records in 1956, with the purchase of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.” In the fifties he was fascinated by rock ‘n’ roll, but from 1960 on his interest shifted to country music. In the early 1970s, he started the Folk Variety label and started booking folk acts into German clubs.