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Don Reno & Red Smiley Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64

Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64
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1-CD-Album with 48-page booklet, 24 tracks, playing time 53:25 minutes. This collection brings... more

Don Reno & Red Smiley: Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64

1-CD-Album with 48-page booklet, 24 tracks, playing time 53:25 minutes.

This collection brings together for the first time on CD the complete Dot Recordings of Don Reno. The twelve landmark tracks from 1957 with his longtime partner Red Smiley, produced by Mac Wiseman, are heralded as some of the finest music the duo ever recorded. Following the end of their partnership, Reno made his first recordings as a solo artist within one month of their breakup. Produced by Reno's former employer, Arthur Smith, these twelve titles were only available for a short period on LP and make their first appearance on CD here.

A newly researched biography and exhaustive notes by Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs contains extensive quotes from producers, Wiseman and Smith, as well as Reno's oldest son, Ronnie. Stubbs relates the complete story about the music and the men.

Quotes From Members Of The Country Music Hall Of Fame

"In my disc jockey days in the late '50s, bluegrass music was just as much a part of country as anything else, and I wouldn't think of doing a show without playing Don Reno and Red Smiley. I played a lot of Don and Red's music. I liked their music very much, and when I got to know them personally in later years, they were just incredible. They were so nice to me. You know, you remember as a young artist the people who were nice to you on the way up, and I have never forgotten how nice Don and Red always were to me."
Bill Anderson

"Well, to be honest with you, I thought they were the best bluegrass group I'd ever heard. I liked their brand right off the bat. I liked Don Reno and Red Smiley. They were my favorite bluegrass group."
Merle Haggard

"I met Don Reno and Red Smiley back in the late '50s. Wow, they had a great band and show. They invited us to come and play on their TV show as their guest for two weeks. At night we'd work in school houses and auditoriums. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Don and Red were the kind of guys you could have fun with, they just felt like family the first time you met them. And from then on, they were part of my music family. You could always count on them to put on a show!!! And most of all, the two of them were real, genuine men of great character."
Porter Wagoner

Article properties: Don Reno & Red Smiley: Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64

Reno, Don & Red Smiley - Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64 CD 1
01 Howdy Neighbor Howdy RENO, Don & RED SMILEY
02 Sweethearts In Heaven Don Reno & Red Smiley
03 Where Did Our Young Years Go Don Reno & Red Smiley
04 Cotton Eyed Joe Don Reno & Red Smiley
05 Your Love Is Dying Don Reno & Red Smiley
06 Dark Waters Don Reno & Red Smiley
07 Sawing On The Strings Don Reno & Red Smiley
08 One Teardrop And One Step Away Don Reno & Red Smiley
09 Unforgiveable You Don Reno & Red Smiley
10 Banjo Medley Don Reno & Red Smiley
11 (Won't You) Kiss Me One More Time Don Reno & Red Smiley
12 One More Hill Don Reno & Red Smiley
13 Somewhere Tonight RENO, Don
14 It's Only Right That I Should Pray Don Reno & Red Smiley
15 Military Five String Don Reno & Red Smiley
16 Silver Threads Among The Gold Don Reno & Red Smiley
17 Soldier's Joy Hop Don Reno & Red Smiley
18 Three Finger Hop Don Reno & Red Smiley
19 Clear Skies Don Reno & Red Smiley
20 If I Could Hold You One More Time Don Reno & Red Smiley
21 Now I'm Willing To Give You My Heart Don Reno & Red Smiley
22 Lonesome Hearted Blues Don Reno & Red Smiley
23 I Know You're Married, But I Love You Still Don Reno & Red Smiley
24 Charlotte Breakdown Don Reno & Red Smiley
Don Reno & Red Smiley Sometime in the fall of 1954, Dot Records president and founder... more
"Don Reno & Red Smiley"

Don Reno & Red Smiley

Sometime in the fall of 1954, Dot Records president and founder Randy Wood was having a conversation with Mac Wiseman at the company offices in Gallatin, Tennessee. According to Mac, "Randy had recently gotten word that Hank Snow's current single of 'I Don't Hurt Anymore' had just sold 600,000 copies. The record was still going great guns and had crossed over into the pop field as well. You must remember that this was an astronomical sales figure for a country record in those days. Randy and I were discussing this and I'll never forget the words he told me as I sat across the desk from him. He said, 'One day there won't be any more country music--as you and I know it.' You could have blown me over with a feather! Randy was a man of great foresight, and within just a couple of years I found out just what he meant. With the advent of rock and roll, you could hardly get a country record played on the radio."

However a lot happened in the business within those couple of years and Mac eventually opted to experiment beyond the boundaries he'd set for himself up to that time. After successfully producing a commercial session on himself, Randy Wood offered Mac a job in late 1956 to serve as the company's Artist & Repertoire manager for the label’s country division. By this time Dot Records had left the rural Sumner County seat of Gallatin, Tennessee and moved to Hollywood, California. It was decided that Mac would relocate to California for a year to learn the ropes of the business, then move to Nashville to have a closer pulse on the country music industry. By January of 1957 Mac had moved to California. One of the earliest, quite possibly the first, act he secured for the label was Don Reno & Red Smiley.

Reno & Smiley first got together in December of 1949 when they were members of Tommy Magness and the Tennessee Buddies. They would make their first recordings together with Magness in 1951 for King’s Federal subsidiary. Shortly thereafter they went to Wheeling, West Virginia to work for Toby Stroud over WWVA, before setting out on their own as Don Reno & Red Smiley and the Tennessee Cutups. King Records president Syd Nathan was eager to record them, and their first session in January of 1952 produced an amazing sixteen titles, all written by Reno. However, by the time the first release I'm Using My Bible For A Roadmap, now considered a country/bluegrass gospel classic, appeared in April, the band had already dissolved due to insufficient bookings.

Don Reno went back to work with his former employer Arthur 'Guitar Boogie' Smith at WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Smiley found employment with the State Roads Commission there in the Tarheel State. Meanwhile, Syd Nathan discovered that there was a demand for the music of Reno & Smiley on record at least, and he wished to continue recording the duo. Don and Red consented and they remained a recording-only group for the next three years. During this time they produced some amazing songs that sold consistently, played well on the juke boxes, and in many cases would go on to become standards in a style of country music that became known as bluegrass.

Easter weekend of 1955, the duo resumed their partnership on a performing level making their base of operations in Richmond, Virginia where they signed on as members of the Old Dominion Barn Dance on 50,000 watt WRVA, which blanketed the eastern seabord states at night and greatly helped popularize Don and Red's career. They wanted good men who would stick with them, and they found two of the very best from South Carolina. Fiddler Mack Magaha hailed from Ware Shoals, while bassist John Palmer came from Union. Don, Red, Mack, and John proved to be a magical team both in person and on record. After having done some booking for the act, they hired Carlton Haney in January 1956 to be their manager.

King Records released a new single every six weeks, and their popularity continued growing. They even went to New York and appeared on national television on the Arthur Godfrey Show. In 1956, Reno & Smiley worked an amazing 342 days. On December 27, of that year they began broadcasting a daily, one hour weekday television show from Roanoke, Virginia over WDBJ. Don recalled, "We moved to Roanoke and drove to Richmond every Saturday night for the Old Dominion Barn Dance until the Spring of 1957. Our television show with our old friend (announcer) Irvin Sharp, called 'Top Of The Morning' did so well they added one half hour to our show and the drive to Richmond got rough. We took over the WDVA Barn Dance in Danville, Virginia every Saturday night as soon as we left the Old Dominion Barn Dance,"  which they continued until December of 1959.

In very early 1957 when Mac Wiseman contacted Don and Red about the possibility of recording them on Dot, the duo seemed quite receptive. Dot was having great success in the pop field with Pat Boone and others, and Reno & Smiley hoped that Dot would afford better distribution, and possibly lead to bigger and better things. "Plus,” Mac added, "the fact that we knew each other and they could trust me. And we could communicate. That's the big thing. So many A&R men, great A&R men, and musical people can't communicate with country artists."

Mac's affiliation with Don began when Mac became a member of Bill Monroe's band on Easter weekend of 1949. Mac didn't know any of Bill's songs at the time and Don taught them to him. "Don was a dear friend. I came here (to Nashville) from Atlanta at the WSB Barn Dance. My wife was pregnant and we had very little revenue at the time--not enough to afford a place to stay. Don and his wife Chloe took us in. Of course I was only in town on the weekends and we would get us a place at that time. But through the week, thank God, my wife stayed with Chloe which was a great comfort to me when I was out there traveling to know that she was in this strange town and had someone to look after her. Don was living out on Dickerson Road in that trailer park, but he had one of those cabins, he wasn't in a trailer. I remember little Ronnie (Don's son) just a baby in diapers playing in the dirt out front, and the little girl (Jean) she was older than he, but they just had the two children at the time. But I'll never forget that, and I didn't have to ask for it, Don volunteered that, which made it all the sweeter, you know."

Mac Wiseman was already one of the top stars of WRVA's Old Dominion Barn Dance when Reno & Smiley became cast members in 1955. "For a four piece group, they were one of the tightest little groups I ever saw. Of course Don always amazed me with his versatility with the banjo and because of our association during the time we were together as the Blue Grass Boys, he was one of my favorite people. Don and Red, Mack Magaha, and I, we fished a lot. We'd go down to this little place called Boler's Wharf. We'd fish two or three mornings a week."  ...

Don Reno & Red Smiley Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64

Read more at: https://www.bear-family.com/reno-don-und-red-smiley-sweethearts-in-heaven-the-dot-rec.-1957-64.html
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Tracklist
Reno, Don & Red Smiley - Sweethearts In Heaven, The Dot Rec. 1957-64 CD 1
01 Howdy Neighbor Howdy
02 Sweethearts In Heaven
03 Where Did Our Young Years Go
04 Cotton Eyed Joe
05 Your Love Is Dying
06 Dark Waters
07 Sawing On The Strings
08 One Teardrop And One Step Away
09 Unforgiveable You
10 Banjo Medley
11 (Won't You) Kiss Me One More Time
12 One More Hill
13 Somewhere Tonight
14 It's Only Right That I Should Pray
15 Military Five String
16 Silver Threads Among The Gold
17 Soldier's Joy Hop
18 Three Finger Hop
19 Clear Skies
20 If I Could Hold You One More Time
21 Now I'm Willing To Give You My Heart
22 Lonesome Hearted Blues
23 I Know You're Married, But I Love You Still
24 Charlotte Breakdown