Who was/is Baker Knight & Knightmares ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Thomas BAKER KNIGHT's songwriting - teen ballads for Ricky Nelson and C&W hits for Nashville's finest - has overshadowed an enduring if less spectacular career as a singer of country, pop and rock 'n'roll. He grew up in Birmingham, Alabama where he was born of Scots ancestry on Independence Day 1933. He attended the University of Alabama and played guitar in the orchestra.
Knight's premier idol was B.B.King: "This was 1952. I was over at the black radio station before white people knew they had such things. They played BB incessantly and I'd copy his licks. His guitar playing was the greatest thing I ever heard."
In 1955 Knight recorded Poor Little Heart for Al Bubis's Nashville-based Kit label. The following year, Bubis travelled to Birmingham to produce Bring My Cadillac Back. Knight's group, the Knightmares, cut the record in a tiny studio with one microphone that picked up everything. Originally issued on Kit, Bring My Cadillac Back casts off energy rays in all directions. Bubis negotiated a contract with Decca who shifted 40,000 copies in two weeks though the big Northern stations refused to play a record which resembled a free commercial.
Knight's Decca and Coral sides, 14 in all, snag few threads of attention though Love-A-Love-A Love-A attracted cover versions (Milton Allen, Marty Wilde) and Eddie Cochran played on Just Relax. By then, Knight had moved to Hollywood where Ricky Nelson snatched up his songs before the ink dried. I Got A Feeling and Lonesome Town, which echoed Knight's feelings about Hollywood, were the first of many. Nelson liked the demos but Knight also gave him the publishing; the practice was so unremarkable that 'Music Reporter''s 1961 Artist Yearbook could state that Knight was selling his songs to Ricky Nelson.
Flushed with success, Knight hauled his demos around other companies including RCA Victor where The Wonder Of You was rejected by Perry Como and accepted by Ray Peterson. It's Knight's best-seller (out of 800 compositions) and now firmly associated with Elvis who topped worldwide charts in 1970.
Knight's own records on Jubilee, RCA, Kick, Chess and Checker, Everest, Daja, Challenge, Domain, Another Record Co., Reprise and Warner Brothers disappeared down the chute to oblivion but his songs remained successful. Cowboy Boots was a #1 C&W hit for Dave Dudley in 1963 and Don't The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time, Top Five for Mickey Gilley, won the Academy of Country Music's Song Of The Year Award in 1976. Artists as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lee Lewis have recorded Knight's songs. The Customs, Cincinnati's new wave rockabilly band, revived Bring My Cadillac Back in 1983.
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