2013 OBHOF Inductees
The inductions are helpd over Memorial Day Weekend in late May.
FROM THE PROGRAM in MAY at the INDUCTIONS 2013
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement: Oklahoma City Blue Devils
Scott Ellison June McKinney Robbie Mack McLarren
Broadway Jimmy Thomas Danny Timms Slugger Trask
Keeping the Blues Alive — KBA’s:
Archivalist: Kerry Kudlacek
KBA in Recording: Mike Peace
Media: Leilani Roberts Ott
Musicians of Note: Alonzo ‘Stack’ Walton
This is a milesotne this year here at the OK Blues Hall of Fame – our tenth year of inductions! “We have inducted 71 artists by this year! Our four best shows of the year are these inductions coming up on Decoration Day Saturday – Memorial Day Weekend, May 25 and of course the three nights of the Labor Day Weekend Blues Festival:, said Selby Minner. Some award presentations will be by Dr. Hugh Foley, Kerry Kudlacek, and Jeff Koss, OJHOF.
This will be a gala starting at 7 pm, including a sit down bar-b-que dinner. There will be MANY Hall of Famers present to welcome the new inductees (Baby Ray Mucker, Selby Minner, Leon Rollerson and the Production, Jim Davis…) – and we will hear from them all musically. The Blues will flow until well after midnight
D.C. Minner Lifetime Achievement Award: Oklahoma City Blue Devils
The early Jazz tradition in Oklahoma was more closely associated with the blues tradition than in many other places. The Territorial Bands played both jazz and blues. They traveled a 5 state area. Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. One group was renowned for being the best of these many musicians. This was the Oklahoma City Blue Devils.
The Oklahoma City Blue Devils were a territorial band with a legendary reputation among musicians in the Southwest. Starting in 1923 accompanying Billy King’s road show, “Moonshine,” at the Aldridge Theatre in Oklahoma City, they also performed for white and African American audiences from Texas to the Dakotas until stranded in Bluefield, West Virginia. The Blue Devils were a “commonwealth” band, lacking a leader, and members voted democratically on every issue.
Early bandsmen included bassist Walter Page, pianist Willie Lewis, trombonist Ermal Coleman, and drummer Edward McNeil, and through the years singer Jimmy Rushing, saxophonist Henry “Buster” Smith, cornetist Oran “Hot Lips” Page, tromboner/guitarist/composter/arranger Eddie Durham, pianist William “Count” Basie, and Lester “Pres” Young. Bandsmen often taught lesser-known musicians before they joined the band.
The Blue Devils recorded only once, in 1929, cutting two records, “Blue Devil Blues” and “Squabblin’.” They were a rival of the Bennie Moten band from Kansas City, but the two never competed against one another in the famous “battle of the bands” as some musicians claimed. Several Blue Devils, Durham, Rushing, Basie, and Hot Lips Page among them, joined Moten’s orchestra, making the classic 1932 recordings including “Toby” and “Lafayette,” considered to be the earliest examples of big band swing.
By the mid-1930s the Blue Devils stayed in Kansas City performing in small bands and variously with bandleaders Moten and Basie. Pianist Eddie Christian led a new version of the Devils in 1935, but it was short-lived. When Basie formed his Reno Club combo in that city in 1935, his motto was to “get some Blue Devils.” The band was in his opinion the finest performers he ever heard.Lester Young, Walter Page, and Jimmy Rushing were stalwarts in the orchestra, and Durham wrote many of their hits with Rushing and Basie, whose orchestra went through several versions over five decades. Sources: Douglas Henry Daniels, One O’clock Jump: The Unforgettable History of the Oklahoma City Blue Devils (Boston: Beacon Press, 2005)
BLUE DEVILS printout from the online Encyclopedia of OK History and Culture
The Oklahoma City Blue Devils began ca. 1923-24 in Kansas City as Billy King’s Road Show, a traveling vaudeville troupe. While trombonist Ermir “Bucket” Coleman had nominal control of the band, Walter Page masterminded the musical arrangements. Page’s credentials included study in 1920s Kansas City with Major N. Clark Smith and Charles Watts, who were numbered among that town’s best instructors. When the Billy King Road Show disbanded in1925 in Oklahoma City, Page renamed the group; some say it became “Walter Page’s Original Blue Devils,” but others contend it was the “Oklahoma City Blue Devils.” Once the Blue Devils were reorganized in Oklahoma City, Page persuaded a group of Oklahoma City businessmen to back the venture. The backing consisted of a little cash, a set of uniforms, a supply of meal tickets good at a restaurant owned by one of the sponsors, and the donation of a large hotel room (at the Littlepage Hotel in the “Deep Deuce” district, or Northeast Second Street).
From 1925 to 1933 they were among the finest bands in the region. The Blue Devils worked out of Oklahoma City’s Ritz Ballroom in the winter months, playing there and also at venues in other Oklahoma towns. The fall and spring tour took the band to ballrooms scattered over a wide area that included Omaha, Houston, El Paso, and Little Rock. They also played dates in states further west and north.
Early members of the Blue Devils included Oran “Hot Lips” Page, Jimmy Lu Grand, Harry Youngblood, James Simpson (trumpets); Ermir Coleman, Eddie Durham, Druie Bess, and Dan Minor (trombones); Reuben Roddy, Ted Manning, Theodore Ross, and Buster Smith (reeds); Willie Lewis and Turk Thomas (piano); Reuben Lynch (guitar); Edward McNeil and Alvin Burroughs (drums); Walter Page (bass, tuba, and baritone saxophone); and Ernie Williams (vocals). Four native Oklahomans at one time or another sat in with the Blue Devils, including Abe Bolar (bass), Lemuel C. Johnson (clarinet/tenor saxophone), and Jimmy Rushing (vocals) from Oklahoma City, and Don Byas (tenor/alto saxophone) from Muskogee. During their heyday the Blue Devils added such luminary jazz artists as Lester Young (tenor saxophone) and William, later known as “Count,” Basie (piano). The personnel included some of the finest musicians produced in two decades of jazz in the Southwest and Midwest. Several former Blue Devils, including “Lips” Page, Jimmy Rushing, Eddie Durham, and Walter Page, joined other soon-to-be legendary bands, including those of Bennie Moten and Count Basie. In 1929 in Kansas City the Blue Devils held their first and only recording session, on Vocalion 1463. The Blue Devils band was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
Count Basie –think Kansas City B;ues– produced some of the most blues driven jazz ever created with these musicians from the Oklahoma – the Oklahoma City Blue Devils.
Scott Ellison Toured in the bands of: Jessica James (Conway Twitty’s daughter). Veteran bluesman Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown plucked the energetic guitarist as rhythm player for his own band.
A move to Los Angeles during the mid-’80s found Scott playing and touring with the likes of The Box Tops, The Shirelles, The Coasters and Peaches and Herb. By the 1990s, Scott formed his own blues band and opened up shows for such legends as Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, The Fabulous T-birds and Buddy Guy. Writing constantly, Scott was able to compose enough material to record and release his first two solo efforts, Chains of Love (Quicksilver Records) and Live at Joey’s (Red Hot Records). Both records reflected his love for the blues and his talent as a writer. Returning back to his home in Tulsa, Scott teamed up with longtime friend Terry Lupton to write 10 more original tunes for his next release, Steamin’ (Fishhead Records), which garnered much critical acclaim. Ellison then co-wrote and recorded One Step from the Blues (JSE), a Tulsa sound rhythm & blues record featuring a number of well-known Tulsa musicians.
As a songwriter, Scott has had his songs featured on the hit TV shows ‘Sister Sister,’ ‘Eye on L.A.’ the steamy soap opera ‘Santa Barbara’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ Burnside Records is proud to release Bad Case Of The Blues available at all fine record stores, by mail-order through Burnside Records or online at www.burnsiderecords.com. Scott is currently touring across the U.S., Canada and Europe with accompanying radio and retail in-store performances
June McKinney Famed pianist for jazz greats including Count Basie and the Thad Jones Trio also, the mother of Michael McKinney; road bassist for the Michael Jackson on his world tour (recommended by Nate Watts) Michael went around the world 3 times playing bass. Credited on the Jacksons album Triumph [Epic, 1980], and is the bassist heard on Jacksons: Live [Epic, 1981]. Ms McKinney played in many churches; including the large organs, and was a famed OKC music educator as well.
Robbie Mack McLaren
Robbie Mack, aka Rob McLerran, was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Robbie
was inducted along with the other members of the Astronauts; the surf band from Boulder, Colorado
who became popular in the 60’s releasing a number of albums on the RCA label. The Astronauts moved
their base of operations to California in 1967 where the band realigned with Capitol Records, changing
the band’s name to Hardwater and moving in a psychedelic rock direction. In 1970 Robbie teamed up
with Oklahoma native John Herron forming a songwriting partnership and country rockish band,
Boondoggle & Balderdash releasing two LP records for the MCA record group.
In the mid 70’s Robbie returned to Colorado in order to focus on his family. His musical interest moved
to the early blues and jazz styles which he has pursued with great passion. The family moved to Tulsa,
Oklahoma in 1998, “Mainly because it was that much closer to New Orleans”.
His son, Little Joe McLerran, following in his father’s footsteps became a musician and in 2009 won the
International Blues Challenge (IBC) representing the Blues Society of Tulsa. Robbie has performed and
toured internationally with Little Joe ever since.
Broadway Jimmy Thomas played in 1968 for Taj Mahal and on his album Taj Mahal with Jesse Ed Davis. Worked with Johnny Otis in 67 and also spent one year in HI with a band. He worked with Joe Houston and Jay McNeely and the West Coast Horn Section. He was in the band for Screamin’ Jay Hawkins of “I Put a Spell on You” fame. Phillip Walker, Smokey Wilson and Sonny Rhodes – great west coast blues players. He particularly worked with Phillip Walker for many many years. Jimmy half way grew up in Wichita KS and he played with Oklahoma Ollie Gaines, Eddie Taylor, and Larry Johnson through a booking agent called Aunt Cat and Uncle Bob which booked teenage bands to dances all across the Wichita KS and Western OK area. He was born in Salina TX 50 miles from OK Red River. His mother had lot of family in OK and he spent childhood summers and holidays living in Oklahoma – in Ardmore and Dennison, Lake Texoma, Durant, and Colbert.
Danny Timms Amazing track record just one paragraph: For the rest of the ’80s, when he wasn’t writing and touring with Kristofferson, playing keyboards for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, or making his “acting debut” as a hippie band member in a Married With Children TV episode, Danny joined Clark and another fellow Borderlord, Stephen Bruton, in a side project they called Little Whisper and the Rumors. Billed as “the greatest little band you never heard,” they were ultimately not only heard, but also hired, by Bonnie Raitt to join her touring band in the early ’90s. That’s Danny singing “Good Man, Good Woman” with Bonnie on her Live at Montreux DVD. He worked performing with and writing with Kristofferson – his classics and a few new Kristofferson/Timms masterpieces. One of the latter, “A Moment of Forever,” became the title track of a Willie Nelson album and was also recorded by K.T. Oslin, Jennifer Warnes, The Band, and Grace Griffith, who recorded it as a tribute to Eva Cassidy.
Slugger Trask With all this talent and experience in one place, it’s easy to see why Slugger Trask is an award winning band, including the 2007 International Blues Challenge (formerly the W.C. Handy Award) Best Self Produced Album of the Year for their album Slugger Trask: Groove Injected. They also won First Place in the Bands of the World Tour in 2007. This was an opportunity to play and record music with three other U.S bands, and four import bands. The tour played 12 shows in 12 U.S. cities. Slugger was half Cherokee and hails from the Miami area.
Keeping the Blues Alive KBA’s:
Kerry Kudlacek archivalist for the blues Soc of Tulsa and on the boards of the OK Music hall of Fame and the OK Jazz hall of Fame
KBA in Recording: Mike Peace runs MiCasa Studio in Tulsa- an affordable and quality outfit which has recorded CDs by Flash Terry, Jennifer Marriot, Selby Minner and acclaimed Little Joe McLerran.
Musicians of note: Kyle Peterson played guitar in Stack Walton’s band. He was a postal worker in Chicago and in KC, MO. He moved back to OK and hooked up with Stack when he retired. He and his brother both played guitar. Kyle had a beautiful siniging voice and great smooth guitar style - his own solid body guitar sound …but he was very adaptable and could play T BoneWalker, Gatemouth Brown and Charles Brown’s styles as well.
Leilani Roberts Ott tireless features and entertainment writer for the Muskogee Daily Phoenix. She created the programs for the Dusk til Dawn Blues Festival for over 10 years.
John Wooley Tulsa World writer and published author. John has kept his pulse on OK Music including Blues for years and years. He also helped the Rentiesville Blues festival by covering the story in the Spot each year.
Alonzo ‘Stack’ Walton “Stack and Earl Bostic went to college together in New Orleans. Stack went into the service, and when he got out of WW2 came back from Detroit to Tulsa. He was a tenor sax player with his own band. In 1955 they got a 30 min shot with a weekly show on KOTV which ran over 6 months. This put a face on the music in people’s homes. His was a Territorial Band and they played the old Chitlin Circuit or Territorial Band Circuit KS MO AR OK . Stack was a milkman first then got on as a postal worker and was later transferred to CA for 25 years. While in the LA area he played with Roy Milton and many others. When he retired back to Tulsa, he played along with Frank Swain in Flash Terry’s band until he died.
Tulsa had a great rep for good musicians. Harry Pettiford was the brother of Oscar Pettiford and was among the 5 or 6 bands always working out of Tulsa doing the Territorial band circuit from 1950 to 1960. But then many of the musicians left town and moved to KC, CA KS etc….as we all know there are lots of great musicians from this state but not a lot of gigs here so they have to travel. Ernie Fields got that gold record in 1959 In the Mood. He also recorded Chattanuga Choo Choo: he souped up the Glen Miller classics. He appeared on American Bandstand three times, then we went to CA.” Frank Swain OBHOF 2006