Two Weeks of Crown Country

Except for a few of Lester Bihari’s Memphis recordings, the Biharis did not record seminal country-western originals to compare with the Southern roadhouse blues, R&B & west coast jazz they put on tape & acetate from the late 1940’s thru the mid-fifties.  It’s not that they didn’t try.  According to research by John Broven in Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers, Joe Bihari set up Flair Records in 1952 as a dedicated hillbilly subsidiary before quickly reverting to R&B. Bihari admitted to Broven that Modern’s distributers weren’t set up to handle hillbilly music and the label never had the right songs or the right artists.  At the same time, the majors had signed the big names like Hank Williams and Ernst Tubb. So, despite a Southern tour by Joe B to find artists, Flair’s hillbilly promised failed to materialize.

However, years later, the Crown budget label started releasing a lot of straight-ahead country roots & rockabilly by licensing tracks from small labels and reissuing the material on LPs such as the ones featured below.


CST 467/1965

BMI Songwriter Sterling Blythe claimed authorship of the Freddy Fender hit “Before the Next Teardrop Falls.”  He recalled having sold the rights to a portfolio of songs, among them “Before the Next Teardrop Falls,” for $4,500 to settle debts when he left Nashville for the West Coast prior to Fender’s recording.

Buy an overpriced 8 Track version of this LP  here. There’s a short bio and extensive Blythe discography here.  More info & discography here.

Maybe I’m crazy but this Ring of Fire sounds like Jerry Cole. The back up band doesn’t resemble the band on other Blythe tracks plus the rhythm section has Cole’s signature Crown rock beat used in several of his cycle/biker/hot rod instrumentals.

Here Blythe does a family in-law version of Hot Rod Lincoln. Great band, demented lyrics:


CLP 5496/1966

The LP inside this sleeve is titled Guitars Go Country on the ARA label (MO 11-2A) though all the tunes listed on the cover are on the LP.  The vinyl trail off has CLP 5496 scratched off and MO 11-2A scratch in.  Bihari’s ARA label is not mentioned in the extensive Both Sides Now discography but ARA is noted as the name of an early Bihari record plant by John Broven in  Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneers. So how did the ARA label vinyl end up in this Crown label sleeve? And was an ARA LP cover version of this LP ever issued? And if so then what did it look like?

The music on this LP is average acoustic country instrumental music  featuring dobro.


CLP 5276/1962

From comments left on this youtube posting of this LP

“Larry Caldwell  played led guitar for the snake river outlaws, my dads band in the 50’s in Missoula MT.  Then he went  CA and NV to play in vegas. He was very good. He came back to MT to play with the  S R outlaws again in 1967. He gave me lessons when I was about 13.  Larry gained a lot of weight and became unhealthy. Last  I heard  he had died  in las vegas ….pity, he was a great guy and  a great guitarist. My Dad thought the world of him …………. T.Scot Wilburn

More: “This was cut when the guys were known as Speedy Price and the Sons Of The Beach when they performed in and around the Oxnard, CA area. Personnel: Don Hughes – Vocal/Bass Larry Caldwell – Lead Guitar Vernon “Speedy” Price – Steel Guitar Johnny Roberts – Drums

Crawdad renamed Gran Dad by the boys:


CLP 5521/1966

According to this 2000 post at the Steel Guitar Forum, this LP attributed to Norm Kass is actually Red Rhodes and various members of the house band at the Palomino Club in North Hollywood which makes sense since this all instrumental LP has some choice tracks including these:


CST 241/1961

Knockoff of Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins (look up this disk on Both Sides Now & you’ll see an image of the original Robbin’s LP). Later reissued as Billy The Kid. There is no such artist as Rex Wells and the songs on this album are done by Tompall & The Glaser Brothers on Side 1 and The Willis Brothers on Side 2.

Ridiculous fake titles to avoid copyright conflicts such has Mr. Staggerly for Staggerlee & John Hardy for John Henry.  How about Barney & Clyde instead of Bonnie & Clyde?  8-Track version for sale here.


CST 480/1965

More tracks from Sage & Sand. How can you not wanna hear a track titled Another Brew Bartender?

Or Honky Tonk Queen:


CLP 5320/1963

There is extensive info on Eddie Dean on this fan page here including biography, photographs, discography, memories, etc.  Unclear if Crown actually recorded these tracks or if they were put to vinyl at the Sage & Sand studio.

Awesome ED track, Smoke Signals:


CST 154/1959

Loads of interesting information about all the budget labels that produced fake Hank Williams LPs can be found at Budget Labels and Tribute Albums to Hank Williams.  Most of the LPs are based on 30 Curley Williams recordings originally produced by the Biharis.

The LP in this sleeve is a tribute to Hank on another budget label, Pickwick Intern’l’s Grand Prix Series.  Some of the same songs are on both this LP & the Crown (that’s supposed to be in the sleeve), including this nasal, honky tonkin’ version of Red River Valley:

Here’s a better than average Hank imitator doing’ Hey Good Lookin’ – probably better than anyone today could put together.


CLP 5430/1964

Can’t find any info on Joe Reagan or whomever is playing on this “memory” of the great Cowboy Copas, who was just a hair less great than Hank.  Here’s one of the better tracks, Him or Me:


CLP 5222/1961

Another collection of singles from the great little Hollywood country roots/rockabilly label Sage & Sand. You can find lots of info about this label at Praguefrank’s site  and at See images of Sage & Sand labels from different eras here.

Orange Juice by the Rovers, an instrumental featuring astonishing guitar. Haven’t found any info on this band.

Walk My Way Back Home,  a great rocking’ track by an authentic rockabilly artist with one of the best names in the business: Whitey Pullen..


CST 474/1965

Two fads being mined by Crown here, easy listening strings plus country. In a strange ironic twist,  turns out that the old folk tune Shenandoah has African-American roots. Check out this site for some scholarship on the subject but the LP is not worth a listen.


2 thoughts on “Two Weeks of Crown Country

  1. I bought the “Buckaroo” LP and it’s really very good. There isn’t really a bad tune among the 10. I had wondered if this was Red Rhodes since it was so similar-sounding to the one Crown Red Rhodes album I have already. You’ve got the ball rolling…I’m in deep, collecting my Crown albums…

  2. Yes, the band on Buckaroo is basically Red Rhodes and the house band from the Palomino Club. These recordings were mostly made at the Normandie studio in the early 1960s. The current owner of these recordings (and many other of the minor Crowns) is unknown as Ace UK only purchased the early blues, R&B, rockabilly along with the later Jerry Cole material. Congrats on finding Buckaroo because it will probably never be reissued on another format!

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