Who was/is Coker, Al ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Talent abounded in the Coker family. Patriarch Alvis Coker hailed from Conway, Arkansas; he moved to Bakersfield, California in 1937 at 19 and married a girl named Geraldine. Their daughter Alvadean, born in 1938, had vocal ability aplenty. Alvis Jr., born in 1940 and known as Sandy Coker, took up fiddle at age 10. By 1951, the Coker family band held down regular slots on radio stations KTRB and KBOX.

Fabor Robison signed the Cokers to his Hollywood-based Abbott label, recording them at KWKH in Shreveport with the ‘Louisiana Hayride’ band in March of ’54. Alvadean was out front on Witch’s Waltz, her Abbott debut, and she encored with Funny Little Things. When Alvadean cut I Sold Out My Heart for Abbott that July at KWKH, 14-year-old Sandy waxed his first guitar instrumental coupling at the same session: the intricate Meadowlark Melody b/w Toss Over. The sound changed when Alvadean belted We’re Gonna Bop for Abbott in Hollywood the following February—mom Geraldine wrote it and played bass to boot, with Alvadean’s sister, Linda, on piano. Robison also had Alvadean cut a duet with Jim Reeves, Are You The One. The Coker Family became regulars on ‘Town Hall Party’ during the mid-‘50s,

When Paul Cohen brought The Coker Family to Nashville’s Music City Recordings in July of ’56 to make their Decca debuts, he got his money’s worth by having Al sing the gentle rockabilly number Don’t Go Baby (Don’t Go), Alvadean croon Insufficient Love, and Sandy display his lead guitar prowess on the rousing instrumental Rock Island Ride, the firm issuing them all at once. Cohen spread vocal honors around the same way when The Coker Family returned to Nashville, this time booking Owen Bradley’s studio. Al delivered his own Let’s Do It Again, Alvadean wrapped her pipes around Playing Cupid, and Sandy again exhibited impressive guitar chops on Honky Tonk Freeze, cut July 21, 1957 with Mom and Dad in the rhythm section and Under Cover on the B-side.

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