Saturday, November 22, 2014

Darrell Speck: Behind The Record (Rockabilly)

In the early 1940's, Syd Nathan was having success selling used records in his downtown Cincinnati dry goods store, so he decided to make his own records and in 1945, launched King Records. He hired both white and black artists and successfully cross-marketed their songs in the rhythm & blues and country markets. This cross-pollination of musical styles would be a major influence in the development of rockabilly and popular rock and roll.

In the early 1950's, a growing market for recording local artists was recognized. Nathan had already created a company known as Royal Plastics, located at 1540 Brewster Avenue in Cincinnati, to master, press and print his records and over the next 15 years, King produced thousands of releases for small independent labels.

How I Love You (AV-45-101)

One such label was AL VIC Records, owned by Allie and Lefty Combs. The studio operated out of the Harrod Theatre Building in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Besides being a theater owner, Lefty was also a country music singer. Naturally, he released his music on his own label. Others who recorded on AL VIC were Gary Link and The Rock-A-Fellas, The Rhythmettes, Clarence Walls, George and Pee Wee - The Tennessee Pals, Gordon Sizemore, Jay Hammond, Le Troy Reed, The Vandells, Lefty Combs, Tommy Howard, The Routeens, The Hocking Hillbillies, Don Youngblood, The Blue Grass Mt. Boys, Dale Anderson, Wanda K. Lefler, Mary Jane Hisey, Old Joe Clark and Darrell Speck and The Rebel Rousers.

Soon after Syd Nathan began King records in Cincinnati, in Albany, Kentucky, nine-year-old Darrell Speck told his mother, Dimple, that he wanted to learn how to play the guitar just like her. The year was 1947. And so, she began teaching him the chords and soon Darrell was singing and playing anywhere and everywhere he could. By the age of 16, Darrell had gotten a job performing on WAIN-AM in Columbia, Kentucky. He and his band, Darrell Speck and the Rebel Rousers, would drive to Columbia every Saturday morning to do a 15 minute radio show. In 1955, a new radio station signed on the air in Monticello, Kentucky. Darrell auditioned at WFLW and soon he and his group left Columbia for a weekly show at the Monticello station. Darrell did not attend high school past 1955. In 1956, he joined the Navy and married his high school sweetheart, Glenda. After a two-year stint in the Navy at Newport, Rhode Island, Darrell returned home to help his dad put WANY-AM on the air. In addition to becoming a broadcaster, a career that would last over 30 years, Darrell also regrouped his band and continued performing on the side. By June of 1959, Darrell had written two songs that he thought were good enough to be on a record. So, in a few weeks, Darrell and his group (Buddy Bell, Larry Wayne Guffey, Don Daffron andand Jake Smith) traveled to Harrodsburg, where they recorded three tracks at the AL VIC studio. The songs were How I love You, Take Me Back and Not A Word From You. The first two songs were put on a 45 r.p.m. single and 500 copies were pressed at the King Records pressing facility in Cincinnati.

Take Me Back (AV-45-100)

The Rebel Rousers eventually split up. Darrell did several music projects during his life. He remained a radio broadcaster for more than thirty years. He and Glenda raised five children. About a year before he died, in 2003, I was online doing research for my blog, when I stumbled upon a rockabilly website that mentioned dad's AL VIC record. It was then I discovered his record had somehow managed to travel overseas and since 1981 had been released on a total of six various artist rockabilly compilation albums and CD's. Later, I found more (twelve total) in Germany, England, Spain, the Netherlands and France.

They are as follows:
1981 - Bison Bop (Germany) The Bop That Never Stopped, Vol. 11

1981 - White Label (Netherlands) Primitive Sound

1985 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) The Bop That Never Stopped, Vol. 11

1996 - Esso SP (England) "Rockabilly Ramblers 6

1998 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) Teen Town

1998 - Buffalo Bop (Germany) Campus Cutie

year? Club (Spain) Grab This And Dance, Vol. 22

2007 - Rockin' Rarities (France) Vol. 5: 16 Red Hot Rockin' Hits

2012 - Presto Records (UK) Big Bad Rockabilly Boppers Vol. 11

2014 - Thundersqueak Records (England) Rockabilly Rock and Roll Nuggets, Vol. 13 The Rare, the Rarer and the Rarest Rockers

2014 - Thundersqueak Records (England) Rockabilly Rock and Roll Nuggets, Vol. 16 The Rare, the Rarer and the Rarest Rockers

2014 - Pocatello Records - Rockin' Through The Years, Vol. 121 "A Mega Collection of Boppin', Jumpin', Jivin', Shakin' Rockers"

Elam Huddleston, Civil War Union Guerrilla

At his Nashville trial, one of the 53 deaths listed in the indictment against Champ Ferguson was that of Union guerilla Elam Huddleston. If there was one Unionist who was a thorn in Ferguson's side, other than Tinker Dave Beaty, it was Elam Huddleston.

The bad blood between them started before the war. Allegedly, Ferguson had been swindled by some Fentress County, Tennessee men in a business transaction involving hogs. Even though Ferguson received a judgement in his favor, his brother, Jim, and another man took a horse belonging to one of the Fentress County men, Alexander Evans, as attachment to the debt. Unaware of this, Champ went to a camp meeting near the Lick River in Fentress County and there was beset upon by a group of men that included Elam Huddleston. Ferguson physically fought off these men, cutting one of them with a knife. Huddleston vowed to kill Champ, who turned himself in to avoid that. On October 28, 1862, Champ and his men ran into Elam and his men near the town of Albany, and the gun battle that ensued is probably the biggest skirmish that occurred during the civil war in Clinton County. Both men escaped death that day.

Sixty five days later, on New Years night, 1863, Champ Ferguson killed Elam Huddleston.

Champ Ferguson, along with some of John Hunt Morgan's men, had caught up with Elam Huddleston at a log house in Adair County. The home was under construction. It had no floor upstairs, but a few plank on the joists. Huddleston was upstairs shooting out of a window upstairs, when someone ordered the house burned. Someone inside doused the fire with water about the time that Huddleston was shot. He was believed killed as he fell between the joists and dropped to the ground floor. He was brought outside where Ferguson put another bullet in him.

Just before Champ Ferguson was executed, the commandant, Colonel Shafter, read the charges and specifications together with the sentence of the Court. As the different charges were read he either bowed in acknowledgement or shook his head in denial of them. When the name Elam Huddleston was read, he shook his head, and remarked that he could tell it better than that. During the trial, Ferguson said this about Elam Huddleston's death: "I did not kill Elam. I was along, however, I think Ab. Hildreth shot him. I know that Elam shot at me, and the ball grazed my clothes."

According to J.A. Brents' book, Elam Huddleston was five feet ten inches tall, had light hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. He was a man of good sense, was true to his country and was as brave as any man that ever breathed.

Huddleston enlisted in the 1st regiment of Kentucky cavalry, commanded by Colonel Frank Wolford. He was a private in company C.

On January 19, 1862, he took part in the battle of Mill Springs. The Union pickets were attacked at daylight, and twenty mounted men were immediately sent to their support. Elam Huddleston was one of the twenty. When they arrived, the Union pickets were confronted by an entire regiment of infantry. The pickets took a strong position, and received the attack of the rebel regiment. The latter however were held in check until other forces formed and marched to the scene of action, a distance of half a mile. It was however with considerable loss in killed and wounded. The pickets stood firm until their foes were nearly upon them, when all retired except Elam Huddleston, who remained until he was nearly surrounded, when, throwing himself flat upon his horse, he galloped to the rear without any injury. Before his return, his brother Ambrose said to an officer that Elam had acted very foolishly; that he had remained until he was surrounded, and was then killed. Elam, upon his return, reported that he saw four men fall, one he believed to be a commissioned officer. After the battle the ground was examined, and one captain and three privates were found to have been slain. Huddleston took his horse to the rear, and returned and did good service on foot. After the battle, he pointed out a spot upon which he said he had shot several of the enemy. The ground was examined, and the bodies of one commissioned officer, and ten privates were found.

Elam Edward Huddleston is buried in plot F, 0, 665 at Mill Springs National Cemetery at Nancy. Kentucky.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dennis Hopkins, Light Horse Soldier

My great-grandmother, Della Craig Means, was the granddaughter of Ellison Leslie, who was the brother of Kentucky Governor Preston H. Leslie. During the revolutionary war, their grandfather, and my 5th great-grandfather, Dennis Hopkins, Jr. served in the Randolph County, North Carolina Militia. He was twenty years old when he joined.

Dennis filed his Revolutionary War Pension Application in Clinton County on Jan. 2, 1843, at the age of 82. Born on July 13, 1760, in Orange Co., North Carolina, he was raised in Randolph Co., where he lived during the Revolutionary War. He entered the service as a light horse soldier in Randolph County for three months, beginning in October of 1780, under Capt. Wm York and Maj. Thomas Dogin. He was drafted at the house of Betty Cole and marched down Deep River ranging throughout Randolph and Chatham counties and was stationed some considerable time at the barracks in Chatham county on the Plantation of Col. Littrell. A portion of the time he also stayed at Bell’s Hill in Randolph County, where the company's headquarters were located. He also participated in marches through Guilford and Orange counties. He was shot in his foot during a skirmish with the Tories in Randolph County but still served out the full term of three months before receiving a written discharge from Capt. York sometime in January of 1781.

Dennis volunteered for another three months on April 1, 1781 and marched down Sandy Creek to his previous station at Col. Littrell’s Plantation at Bell's Mill. During his time at war, he said he caught, whipped, killed and hung many Tories or helped drive them out of the country. Sometime around July, he marched to the Randolph County Court House, where he received his final discharge as a revolutionary war soldier.

Dennis Hopkins married in Randolph County and lived there thirteen more years before moving to Clark County, Georgia, where he lived ten years before moving to Wayne County. Kentucky, where lived some 32 years. That portion of Wayne County where he lived later became part of Clinton County.

Dennis Hopkins died on June 26, 1850 at the age of 90. He is buried at Hopkins Cemetery in Clinton County, Kentucky.

Long may our Land be Bright with Freedom's Holy Light

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, but after voting to approve it, a draft do...