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Ed Bruce Puzzles (CD)

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Ed Bruce, singer/songwriter, died Friday, January 8, 2021, in...more

Ed Bruce: Puzzles (CD)

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Ed Bruce, singer/songwriter, died Friday, January 8, 2021, in Clarksville, Tennessee, of natural causes at age 81.

1-CD with 16-page booklet, 29 tracks. Playing time approx. 78 mns.

By 1966, Ed Bruce had been an unsuccessful Sun rockabilly and had kicked around the Nashville scene for several years without much more success. Then he was signed to RCA and his incredible winning streak began with Walker's Woodsand his highly regarded country rock cover version of The Monkees' Last Train To Clarksville. The 29 songs on this collection comprise all of Ed's RCA recordings from 1966 to 1968, including Blue Bayou, Painted Girls And Wine, as well as a hit he wrote for Charlie Louvin, Lonesome Is Me, and The Price I Pay To Stay, later a hit for Jeannie C. Riley.

Press release January 8, 2021:

In 1957, at the age of 17, he went to see Jack Clement, a recording engineer for Sun Records. Bruce caught the attention of Sun owner Sam Phillips, for whom he wrote and recorded "Rock Boppin' Baby" (as "Edwin Bruce"). In 1962, he wrote "Save Your Kisses" for pop star Tommy Roe and in 1963 he reached No. 109 on the Billboard "Bubbling Under" chart with his own recording of "See the Big Man Cry" (Wand 140), both published by Bill Justis at Tuneville Music. Charlie Louvin recorded "See the Big Man Cry" (Capitol 5369) in 1965; Louvin's version reached No. 7 on the Billboard "Country Singles" chart. During his career, many songs that Bruce wrote and recorded were more successful when re-recorded by others.

In the early 1960s, Bruce recorded for RCA and some smaller labels like Wand/Scepter, singing rockabilly music, as well as more pop-oriented material such as "See the Big Man Cry." In 1966, he returned to RCA and recorded "Puzzles", "The Price I Pay to Stay" and "Lonesome Is Me". He still did not achieve great charting action. He made money doing voice-overs for television and radio commercials. He scored his first charted single with "Walker's Woods" in 1967, and also charted with his version of The Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville." Both of these singles were minor hits. In 1969, Bruce signed with Monument Records, where he continued to have minor successes with "Everybody Wants To Get To Heaven" and "Song For Jenny".

Meanwhile, he continued to write songs like "The Man That Turned My Mama On," which was a major hit for Tanya Tucker in 1974 and "Restless" for Crystal Gayle the same year. He signed with United Artists Records in 1973 and released several singles, but only one single in 1974 became a minor hit. He finally made the upper regions of the charts when he made the Top 20 on the country charts with his version of "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys", a song he co-wrote in 1976.

Two more Top 40 hits followed for Bruce in 1976, and in 1977, he signed with Epic Records where he would score minor hits. In 1978, "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys" was recorded by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. It became a major hit and continued the upward swing in Bruce's career. In 1979, Tanya Tucker took Bruce's 1977 song "Texas (When I Die)" into the country Top 5.

In 1980, Bruce signed with MCA Records, where he would score his biggest successes. His early hits with MCA included "Diane", "The Last Cowboy Song", "When You Fall In Love (Everything's A Waltz)", "Evil Angel", and "Love's Found You And Me". His biggest hit, "You're the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had" went to number one on the country chart in 1982. This also was Bruce's first Top 10 as a singer after 15 years. He had other hit songs that made the Top 10 like "Ever, Never Lovin' You", "My First Taste of Texas", and "After All".

In 1984, he returned to RCA Records and scored a No. 3 hit with "You Turn Me On Like A Radio" in 1985. His last Top 10 single was "Nights" in 1986 and his last Top 40 single (and last chart single to date) was "Quietly Crazy" in 1987.

During this time, Bruce began to act and do commercials. One of his biggest acting roles was as the second lead on the television revival of 1957's Maverick, called Bret Maverick. Starring James Garner as a legendary western gambler, the series ran on NBC-TV during the 1981-82 season but was unexpectedly canceled despite respectable ratings. Bruce played the surly town lawman who found himself reluctantly co-owning a saloon with Maverick, with whom he seemed to maintain a surreally adversarial relationship more or less throughout the entire season. Bruce also sang and wrote the theme song to the show, while Garner himself sang the same song over the end titles at the show's close, albeit while being relentlessly interrupted by network announcements about upcoming programming.

After the 1986 album entitled Night Things and a 1988 self-titled follow-up, Bruce made a conscious decision to cut back on his music to focus on his acting career, appearing in several made-for-TV films. He hosted two shows in the late 1980s, Truckin' USA and American Sports Cavalcade. Bruce has also appeared in several theatrical releases, including Fire Down Below with Steven Seagal.

Bruce was honored with the Arkansas Country Music Award for "Lifetime Achievement" on June 3, 2018 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. (Jeremy Westby/2911 Media)

Article properties:Ed Bruce: Puzzles (CD)

  • Interpret: Ed Bruce

  • Album titlle: Puzzles (CD)

  • Genre Country

  • Label Bear Family Records

  • Preiscode AH
  • Artikelart CD

  • EAN: 4000127158307

  • weight in Kg 0.115
Bruce, Ed - Puzzles (CD) CD 1
01Puzzles (UWA4 3305)Ed Bruce
02Blue Denim EyesEd Bruce
03By Route Of New OrleansEd Bruce
04Shadows Of Her MindEd Bruce
05Lonesome Is MeEd Bruce
06Tiny Golden LocketEd Bruce
07If I Could Just Go HomeEd Bruce
08Walker's WoodsEd Bruce
09Give Me More Than You Take (TWA4 1427)Ed Bruce
10I'm Getting BetterEd Bruce
11Painted Girls And WineEd Bruce
12The Price I Pay To StayEd Bruce
13Something Else To Mess Your MindEd Bruce
14I Know BetterEd Bruce
15Memphis MorningEd Bruce
16Blue BayouEd Bruce
17Why Can't I Come HomeEd Bruce
18Last Train To ClarksvilleEd Bruce
19Her Sweet Love And The BabyEd Bruce
20I'll Take You AwayEd Bruce
21Ninety Seven More To GoEd Bruce
22I'd Best Be Leaving You (UWA4 2530)Ed Bruce
23Puzzles (WWA4 1796)Ed Bruce
24The Ballad Of The Drummer BoyEd Bruce
25Painted Girls And Wine (overdub)Ed Bruce
26Blue Bayou (overdub)Ed Bruce
27Give Me More Than You Take (WWA4 1862)Ed Bruce
28I'd Best Be Leaving You (UWA4 2226)Ed Bruce
29Puzzles (WWA4 1861)Ed Bruce
EDWIN BRUCE In the late '70s, it was just about impossible to avoid Ed Bruce. His... more
"Ed Bruce"


In the late '70s, it was just about impossible to avoid Ed Bruce. His composition, Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, was not only a #1 hit for Waylon 'n' Willie, but an era-defining song, and his records for MCA were charting. If you turned off the stereo, his voice was on radio and TV selling anything and everything from Hungry Jack Biscuits to Tennessee tourism. He even briefly starred as James Garner's sidekick in the 1982 revival of Maverick. On his MCA albums and in his television and movie appearances, Ed had the grizzled look of the Marlboro Man nearing retirement, but he didn't always look that way. In 1957, Ed Bruce was Edwin Bruce, a fresh-faced seventeen year-old rockabilly on Sun Records.

William Edwin Bruce, Jr. was born in Keiser, Arkansas on December 29, 1939. His family moved to Memphis when Ed was around one year old, and his father became a car salesman. The Bruces lived on South Lauderdale just across the street from Elvis's first manager, Bob Neal. Aside from managing Elvis and Johnny Cash, Neal was a dee-jay who hosted a kiddies show as Uncle Piggly. He showed Ed how to make a few chords on the ukulele. “I got one when I was eight years old,”Ed told Dave Booth in 1986. “Then I started playing guitar when I was ten. I saved up the money from my paper route and put it in a change jar. A kid in the neighborhood had a guitar for sale and I wanted one so bad I could hardly stand it. I bought the thing and you almost needed a machine press to mash the strings down to the fretboard. My poor little ol’ hand was like raw hamburger. I worked so hard at it and my folks saw I was so serious about it that they went and rented a Martin guitar.” Ed's first passion was country music, and he was at pains to emphasize this later. In eighth grade, he won third prize in a high school talent contest singing High Noon,Around the same time, as he told Booth, "I remember going to a show at the Ellis Auditorium when I was twelve years old. I took my first true love who was also twelve. Bob Neal presented the show and the headliner was Hank Thompson. After a while my date turned around to me, 'Do you really like this?' Just broke my heart, because of course I liked it."

Ed went to Messick High School in Memphis alongside Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, B.B. Cunningham, and Don Nix. Talking to Premium Guitar,Cropper remembered that Bruce was two years ahead of him and would play shows unaccompanied singing Bo Diddley songs. “I went up to him after one show,”said Cropper, “and said to him, ‘Man, how do you DO that?’ He said, ‘Well, you gotta get you a git-tar and learn how to play it.’”Elvis was inescapable: “I remember seeing him on a package show at Overton Park Shell in Memphis,”Bruce said later. “He didn’t seem like he could play the guitar too well, but he had terrific showmanship. I met him at his house when he still lived out on Audubon Drive. I went out there with Sonny Neal. Elvis was very cordial. He didn’t even have a gate on his house at that time. Even then a lot of people were starting to take advantage of him.” Ed graduated in June 1957. A little earlier, he went to Sun to make a demo of the first song he’d written, Eight Wheel Driver, and Jack Clement heard some promise in the kid. “We had run through one song and Jack said, ‘Y’all just hold it a minute’ and he stopped, went back and got Sam out of his office. He said, ‘Do the song again.’ We did it and Sam came down onto the studio floor and started talking to my folks about what he wanted to do with me.” That first appearance was probably during April or May 1957. There was a session on May 8 and a Hi-Lo publishing contract covering Eight Wheel Driver and Doll Baby was issued ten days later, suggesting that Phillips saw those two songs as the first single. At some point, the plan changed and Rock Boppin’ Baby was issued with More Than Yesterday. Bruce recalls writing More Than Yesterday but it bears more than a passing resemblance to the Dream Kings’ MTYLTT (More Than Yesterday, Less Than Tomorrow)on Checker Records.

Rock Boppin’ Baby coulda, shoulda made it; certainly, the Collins Kids thought enough of it to cover it. A wonderfully hypnotic record, it had Roland Janes’ dampened bass string guitar and rock solid drumming from J.M. Van Eaton. As he slid from minor key verses into a major key on the bridge, Bruce’s tightly controlled vocal cut loose to great effect. He ensured good sales in Memphis with local gigs and an appearance on Memphis’s own clone of Bandstand,Wink Martindale’s Top Ten Dance Party. The fall of 1957 found Edwin Bruce at Memphis State University majoring in speech and drama. During the Christmas break he returned to Sun and recorded a number of titles. The sessions yielded Sweet Woman/Part Of My Life, released in April 1958.

During April and May 1958 Johnny Cash was working off his commitment to Sun in preparation for his move to Columbia Records. He was holding back all of his new songs because he would be getting a better rate from Columbia and this gave Sun Records’ little army of songwriters a golden opportunity. “I was in the studio when Cash recorded ‘Guess Things Happen That Way,’” said Bruce. “I was sitting in the control room and Jack Clement said, ‘We need a bridge or last verse’ so I wrote one on the spot. I never thought about saying, ‘Hey, what about giving me a share.’ A manifestation of the innocence of youth.” Ed Bruce demo’d his song King Of Fools in a Cash-like style and played his own Luther Perkins guitar part. That song and some others might have been intended for the ears of Johnny Cash. The log books suggest that Bruce played guitar or sang backup on one of Cash’s last sessions, although Bruce has no recollection of it. A lot of tape was expended on King Of Fools suggesting that it was seen as a potential third Sun single. If the cryptic notes inside Sun tape boxes are to be believed, then Bruce returned to Sun for the last time in April 1959 to try King Of Foolsyet again. If so, it was his swansong at Sun.

During his final year on Sun, Bruce took over Elvis Presley’s original backup duo of Scotty Moore and Bill Black. “I had a gig at the Rebel Club in Osceola, Arkansas. It was one of those places where you take someone to count the door so you get a fair shake. Play for $10 a night and all the pride you can swallow. Elvis had fired Scotty and Bill and I called Bill when I was putting together a group for the Rebel Club. Bill said, ‘Who else you got?’ I said, ‘Johnny Cannon, who later became Ace Cannon, playing sax’ and he said, ‘Well, why don’t you call Scotty. He needs the work.’”

By 1986, when he talked to Dave Booth, Ed Bruce felt charitable toward Sun Records and Sam Phillips: “Genius is an overused word, but Sam Philips was probably a genius. He had an exceptional ear for talent, of course. In my case, he was 25 years early. Sun Records has a significant role in the heritage of the music industry but, as a 16 or 17 year old, I had no concept of being part of developing history. It was the only game in town. Sam Phillips had a two track board and two mics in the studio. You achieved a balance by turning the volume up on the singer’s mike and moving the group further or closer to the band mike. There was no such thing as sound baffling although the studio doubled as a warehouse so there were boxes of records everywhere. Accidentally, those boxes served as bafflers but there was a lot of leakage. I didn’t know a great deal about the intricacies of the industry. My parents were guiding my career at that time, not knowing a lot about it either. I certainly didn’t realize that I was part of something people would be talking about three decades later.”

Ed sold used cars after graduation and worked a few lounges as a solo act with his guitar. He didn't get another shot at recording until 1960. By this point, Jack Clement was gone from Sun and was working with Chet Atkins at RCA in Nashville. He brought Ed to Nashville to cut a single for RCA. One side was a sickie song, Flight 303, written by Sun producer Charles Underwood; the other was one of Ed's originals, the lovely Spun Gold. In 1962, Bill Black got him a three-record deal with Scepter-Wand Records. One of the songs, See The Big Man Cry,was arranged by yet another Sun alumnus, Bill Justis. Ed moved to Nashville, trying to peddle songs, but his biggest success came when Bill Black placed one of his songs, Save Your Kisses, on the flip side of Tommy Roe's Sheila. By the time Ed recorded for Sonic and Apt Records in 1964 and 1965, it was clear that his career in pop music was over before it got off the ground. The Beatles had changed everything, and Ed was thinking of getting out of the business altogether when Charlie Louvin scored a top five country hit with See The Big Man Cry. Its success earned him another shot on RCA.

Ed married for the first time in Memphis. His son by that marriage, Trey Bruce, became a successful country songwriter and producer. Ed met his second wife, Patsy, during his first year in Nashville when they both lived in the same apartment building. They married in October 1964, and by the time they returned to Nashville they had a one year-old daughter, Ginny. Later, Patsy took over Ed's management. Back on RCA, Ed cut the Southern gothic Walker's Woods and finally had a hit under his own name. He paid the bills working with the Marijohn Wilkin Singers on WSM-TV and on the 'Bobby Lord Show.' He did background vocals on commercials, and, as of July 1969, he joined Pete Sayers on WSM-TV's 'Morning Show.' A year or two later, Ed and Patsy bought a restaurant in the Biltmore Hotel on Nashville’s Eighth Avenue. Commercials were Ed's mainstay for years, though. He sang and narrated spots for over one hundred sponsors. "People in Nashville used to laugh at us," he said, "but they quit laughing when they found out how much money was in it."

The RCA deal was followed by a stint with Monument and then a four-year lay-off from recording. When Ed came back it was with United Artists, Epic and then MCA. Waylon 'n' Willie hit #1 with his Urban Cowboy anthem Mammas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, and in 1981 he finally had his own first #1 hit as a singer with You're The Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had. In 1984, Ed quit MCA and went back to RCA for the second time, or third if you count the one-off single in 1961.

Ed and Patsy divorced. The hits tailed off. But Ed kept working. He was last seen in the 2009 Johnny Depp-Christian Bale movie Public Enemiesand in the 2010 Gwyneth Paltrow movie Country Strong.His careworn baritone voice still sells whatever it’s called upon to sell; most recently Tuborg Beer. A note on his website says, “Ed and [third wife] Judith recently sold their ranch and relocated to a log home with a wrap-around porch. There, on the back porch, overlooking a river and the mountain beyond, Ed loves to sit with friends and talk sports, horses and dogs, and he loves to talk about the change Jesus has made in his life.”

(Colin Escott)

Various Sun Rock Box 1950-1959 (8-CD)
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Bruce, Ed - Puzzles (CD) CD 1
01 Puzzles (UWA4 3305)
02 Blue Denim Eyes
03 By Route Of New Orleans
04 Shadows Of Her Mind
05 Lonesome Is Me
06 Tiny Golden Locket
07 If I Could Just Go Home
08 Walker's Woods
09 Give Me More Than You Take (TWA4 1427)
10 I'm Getting Better
11 Painted Girls And Wine
12 The Price I Pay To Stay
13 Something Else To Mess Your Mind
14 I Know Better
15 Memphis Morning
16 Blue Bayou
17 Why Can't I Come Home
18 Last Train To Clarksville
19 Her Sweet Love And The Baby
20 I'll Take You Away
21 Ninety Seven More To Go
22 I'd Best Be Leaving You (UWA4 2530)
23 Puzzles (WWA4 1796)
24 The Ballad Of The Drummer Boy
25 Painted Girls And Wine (overdub)
26 Blue Bayou (overdub)
27 Give Me More Than You Take (WWA4 1862)
28 I'd Best Be Leaving You (UWA4 2226)
29 Puzzles (WWA4 1861)