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Sheb Wooley White Lightnin'

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He starred alongside Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon,’ alongside James Dean in ‘Giant,’ and... more

Sheb Wooley: White Lightnin'

  • He starred alongside Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon,’ alongside James Dean in ‘Giant,’ and alongside Clint Eastwood in ‘Rawhide!’
  • He wrote the theme tune of the long-running TV show ‘Hee-Haw!’
  • He was a country singer... and a cousin of Roger Miller, but his biggest hits, like Purple People Eater, were pop!
  • He sang hit pop and country parodies as Ben Colder! q And he was the king of the country boogie!

It was a long, eventful career for Sheb Wooley. Alongside his other achievements, he made the first-ever indie label recordings in Nashville (one of them, Oklahoma Honky Tonk Girl is here) and was on MGM Records from the year after its inception until the year it finished. Along the way, he scored hits in the 1940s, '50s, '60s, and '70s. This collection focuses heavily on his romping, stomping up-tempo songs... mostly recorded in the 1940s and '50s. Using the cream of west coast session musicians like Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, Wooley laid down some shack shakin' country boogies. These were songs you would have found on coun- try jukeboxes in taverns across the west in the years before rock 'n' roll. 

 After the session that launched the record business in Nashville, Wooley didn't return until 1962 when he recorded the rollicking That's My Pa. Incredibly, it was his first-ever charted country hit... and a #1 country hit at that! BEAR FAMILY's 'Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight' just gets better as it goes along, and this long-overdue retrospective of Sheb Wooley's up-tempo sides is the perfect antidote to economic austerity. Good music for bad times!

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Wooley, Sheb - White Lightnin' CD 1
01 Hoot Owl Boogie Sheb Wooley
02 Oklahoma Honky Tonk Girl Sheb Wooley
03 Peepin Through The Keyhole (Watching Jole Blon) Sheb Wooley
04 Your Papa Ain't Steppin' Anymore Sheb Wooley
05 Mule Boogie Sheb Wooley
06 I Can't Live Without You Sheb Wooley
07 Lazy Mazy Sheb Wooley
08 Texas Rose Sheb Wooley
09 Wha' Hoppen To Me, Baby Sheb Wooley
10 That Mean Feeling Sheb Wooley
11 You're The Cats Meow Sheb Wooley
12 Freight Train Cinders In My Eyes Sheb Wooley
13 Country Kisses Sheb Wooley
14 Down In The Toolies Sheb Wooley
15 What'cha Gonna Do Sheb Wooley
16 White Lightnin' Sheb Wooley
17 I Flipped Sheb Wooley
18 Rover Scoot Over Sheb Wooley
19 Goodbye Texas, Hello Tennessee Sheb Wooley
20 Love Is Just Another Merry-Go-Round Sheb Wooley
21 Tom, The Boogie Woogie Tom Cat Sheb Wooley
22 I Go Outa My Mind Sheb Wooley
23 38-24-35 Sheb Wooley
24 You Never Can Tell Sheb Wooley
25 Backroom Boogie Sheb Wooley
26 Don't Stop Kissing Me Goodnight Sheb Wooley
27 Hill Billy Mambo Sheb Wooley
28 Humdinger Sheb Wooley
29 Roughneck Sheb Wooley
30 That's My Pa Sheb Wooley
Sheb Wooley Shelby Wooley was born just outside Erick on April 10, 1921. His father, Bill,... more
"Sheb Wooley"

Sheb Wooley

Shelby Wooley was born just outside Erick on April 10, 1921. His father, Bill, was a farmer who sang bass in gospel quartets and played fiddle. By his teens, young Sheb was riding in local rodeos as well as performing there with his Plainview Melody Boys, also working in the oil fields. While cocking an ear to the country sounds that were coming from Nashville, Chicago and points East, Sheb was clearly drawn to the Western swing sounds of Texas and Oklahoma.

By 1945, he'd married Roger Miller's older sister, Melba; spent a while in a California orange packing plant; and, sidelined from military service by an old riding injury, worked in a World War II defense plant.

Moving to Nashville, then developing as a center of the country music industry, he performed for 'exposure' – promoter talk for without pay – on WLAC; performed around the area; and cut for the local Bullet label. Owner Jim Bulleit had formed a troupe that performed through the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, and names Sheb road manager. After an unrewarding year – and money disputes with Bulleit - he moved to Ft. Worth, Texas. Sheb got a radio show sponsored by General Foods' Calumet Baking Powder, whose logo was an American Indian chief. And, he recorded some sides, among them an answer to the current hit Jole Blon, for the local Bluebonnet label.

Los Angeles-based musician and A&R man Cliffie Stone heard Peepin' Through A Keyhole Watchin' Jole Blon, and cut his own hit version, and there was another cover, by Johnny Tyler for RCA Victor.

Looking to negotiate a new contract, General Foods brought Sheb to New York City, where he immediately contacted RCA's Steve Sholes. The man who would later bring Elvis to RCA didn't sign Sheb, but Wooley told Kevin Coffey that it was in the hall outside Sholes' office that he met Jean Aberbach, co-founder of the Hill & Range music publishing company; who (condensing the story a bit) arranged for Sheb to be signed to M-G-M Records, which released a session cut in Texas and financed by the publisher.

Wooley returned to California; ostensibly hoping to find a place in the movie industry, but doubtless aware of the major country music scene developing in the area. "I was raised on a ranch," Wooley explained to 'Los Angeles Times' writer Don Alpert in 1960, "and I went into town on Saturdays to see the movies. They were all western films, and I think it became indelible in my mind that I could do that, too.

"Actually, I came out to be a singing cowboy, but when I got here in 1950 [sic] they didn't want any singing cowboys, even if you had your own guitar."

A retainer from Hill & Range helped Sheb through his acting lessons with Hollywood coach Jack Kosslyn and time spent on auditions; his first film role was a minor one in the 1950 Errol Flynn western 'Rocky Mountain.'

Several small roles followed, but his first real break came when he appeared in 'High Noon.' The film was a big production: produced by Stanley Kramer's company, written by Carl Forman, directed by Fred Zinnemann, and starring Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges and Grace Kelly. Sheb's was another relatively small part – brother of Frank Miller, leader of the outlaw gang faced down by Cooper - but he didn't go unnoticed, especially back home. Recalls Erick-born songwriter Michael Smotherman "Roger Miller told me that the marquee of the theater in Erick said 'High Noon, Starring Sheb Wooley'."

 

Sheb's other film credits were many, but particularly notable titles included'Little Big Horn,' 'The Man Without A Star,' 'Giant,' and 'Rio Bravo.' Roger Miller and Sheb remained close through the years, says Smotherman, who for some time played piano in Miller's band. "Sheb [who played fiddle as well as guitar] got Roger started on the fiddle. Later, he was going to follow Sheb out to Hollywood to be an actor; but when that didn't work out, Roger came to Nashville and became what he became."

Sheb Wooley White Lightnin'
Read more at: https://www.bear-family.de/wooley-sheb-white-lightnin-.html
Copyright © Bear Family Records

Review 4
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Customer evaluation for "White Lightnin'"
28 May 2014

Honky Tonk-Highlight!!!

13 Mar 2014

Informative sleeve notes in the booklet with rare photos and full session details makes for a handy little package.
Maverick 7-8/12 Alan Cackett

13 Mar 2014

Fetziger Country-Boogie, wie gemacht für die Jukeboxen der Prä-Rock 'n Roll-Ära des amerikanischen Westen. Mit gewohnt ausführlicher Biografie und Diskografie.
Good Times 3/12 Ulrich Schwartz

13 Mar 2014

Ansonsten wie immer eine typische Bear-Produktion: Perfekt, bezogen auf Hintergrundinformationen, Bildmaterial und Daten zu den einzelnen Tracks.
Plärrer 5/12 Emmerich Thürmer

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Tracklist
Wooley, Sheb - White Lightnin' CD 1
01 Hoot Owl Boogie
02 Oklahoma Honky Tonk Girl
03 Peepin Through The Keyhole (Watching Jole Blon)
04 Your Papa Ain't Steppin' Anymore
05 Mule Boogie
06 I Can't Live Without You
07 Lazy Mazy
08 Texas Rose
09 Wha' Hoppen To Me, Baby
10 That Mean Feeling
11 You're The Cats Meow
12 Freight Train Cinders In My Eyes
13 Country Kisses
14 Down In The Toolies
15 What'cha Gonna Do
16 White Lightnin'
17 I Flipped
18 Rover Scoot Over
19 Goodbye Texas, Hello Tennessee
20 Love Is Just Another Merry-Go-Round
21 Tom, The Boogie Woogie Tom Cat
22 I Go Outa My Mind
23 38-24-35
24 You Never Can Tell
25 Backroom Boogie
26 Don't Stop Kissing Me Goodnight
27 Hill Billy Mambo
28 Humdinger
29 Roughneck
30 That's My Pa