The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 266

The Jax label

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

And today I will bring you to the first half of the fifties, with releases of the Jax label - a label owned by the Shad brothers, and Bob Shad is the best known of the two, bacause he also owned the Sitting In With label. There's a strong connection between Jax and Sitting In With, and several titles made it to both labels.

And I start with release number 300, that was the first release of the label. Georgia-born Rufus Beacham had just a handful of releases through the years, in the fifties with his band named the Tampa Toppers, and later, in the sixties, billed as 'Mr. Soul'. He became a mainstay in the Miami soul scene after he signed for the Miami based Chart label in 1955. His name also pops up as the pianist in the movie Wind Across The Everglades.

Here he is with Since I Fell For You.

01 - 300 - Rufus Beacham - Since I Fell For You.
02 - 302 - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - A Letter To Lightnin'

The letter to Lightnin Hopkins of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee was that on Jax number 302 and it's that label that I spotlight here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman. Don't know what inspired them to write a hate song to Lightnin' Hopkins because they had never met him until on a gig in 1960 in the Ash Grove club in Los Angeles, both being admirers of Hopkins - and the other way round. The meeting let to a studio session of the three and Big Joe Williams where they recorded the album Down South Summit Meeting for the World Pacific label.

I got more of them two for you - they recorded extenisvely for both the Jax label and Sitting In With. Here is their Key to the Highway.

03 - 304 - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Key To The Highway
04 - 306 - James Widemouth Brown - Boogie woogie Nighthawk


05 - 308 - Bob Gaddy & His Alley Cats - No Help Wanted
05 - 311 - Ray Abrams - Moondog's Blues

Now that was a whole lot of music - you got four in a row. After Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, that was James 'Widemouth' Brown with the Boogie Woogie Nighthawk. He was from a musical family, his brothers were Bobby Brown, Wilson 'Cutie' Brown and the most famous of them, Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown. You got the Boogie Woogie Nighthawk and that was on Jax number 306.

Then after the jingle pianist Bob Gaddy with No Help Wanted - his second release as he did a single for Bob Shad's Jackson label before. In '46, Gaddy moved to New York - "on his way to the West Coast" as he said - but he chose to stay there. He did the piano behind a lot of recordings of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry - and McGhee did the guitar on Gaddy's first recordings. He remained active in the New York blues scene until his death in 1997 but he didn't make recordings after 1960.

Then finally saxophonist Ray Abrams with the Moondog's Blues - and Abrams got his fame as one of the pioneers of bebop. He was part of the Clark Monroe band that had a regular gig at the Uptown House in New York - and from 1946 he played with Dizzy Gillespie, Don Redman and Andy Kirk. This is with his own band, that he started in the late forties. The Ray Abrams Band, that's been playing in New York for decades, still continues under his name even though the leader died in 1997.

As number 312 of the catalog of the Jax label, another one of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. Credited on the label als Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters, here is I'm ten thousand Years Old.

07 - 312 - Brownie McGhee & His Jook Block Busters - I'm 10.000 Years Old
08 - 313 - Paul Williams feat. Larry Dale - Shame, Shame, Shame

Larry Dale fronting the band of Paul Hucklebuck Williams with Shame Shame Shame on Jax number 314 and it's this label that I spotlight here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman. Jax was one of the labels of Bob Shad, and we know him better from the Sitting In With label. Shad - short for Shadinsky - was the son of Russian refugees from the early days of the Russian revolution.

He developed a passion for jazz and in the New York clubs he met Ahmet Ertegun who had started the Atlantic label. In their studios he learned the tricks of producing. He recorded artists for the Savoy, Manor, Black & White, Continental and National labels and for that last label, his brother Morty became the sales director.

In '48 they started out on their own, starting the Castle label, and Sittin' In with, and later Jax, Spirituals, Jade, Jackson, Harlem, Shad, Brent and Time, and they specialized on Rhythm & Blues rather than jazz - styles that were slowly drifting apart. In '51 - next to his his involvement with his own labels - he did a lot of work for Mercury, and parts of the Sittin' In With catalog got a re-relase on Mercury. Jax was being supervised by Morty Shad, and lasted until 1954, and Sittin' In With continued into 1959.

For his labels Bob Shad didn't just record in New York, but he also headed South - he recorded Curley Weaver in Atlanta and Smokey Hogg and Elmore Nixon in Houston. Another trip to Houston got him Joe Fritz, Lonnie Lyons, more Smokey Hogg, Goree Carter and Jesse James. Earlier he had travelled South for recording gospel in Shreveport, LA, New Orleans and Atlanta. Shad paid his artists nicely for his recordings - 50 dollars a song was quite much in the late forties.

Shad also recorded vocal groups - and the next one is one of them. Now I don't play these slow doowop ballads that often here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - but here is one. On Jax number 314 here are Bobby Hall and the Kings with Why Oh Why.

09 - 314 - Kings - Why Oh, Why
10 - 315 - Lightnin' Hopkins - I've Been A Bad Man

I've Been A Bad Man - you heard Lightnin' Hopkins and for some reason on his Jax and Sittin' In With sides his guitar licks don't get the dramatic effect as they did on the recordings he done for Aladdin. Still it's obvious how he earned his place in Rolling Stone Magazine's top 100 of best guitar players ever. Some of his songs, the lyrics were made up at the moment of recording - Hopkins called that 'air music'.

Next one more of the vocal group the Kings. This was from their second session for Jax - the label they had debuted on, after Morty Shad signed them when they'd won a talent contest. The group originated from Baltimore where they'd spent their first years singing on street corners. At the labels of the Shad brothers, they were able to get it to a higher level, but none of their recordings ever made it to the hit lists. This next one is no difference. Here they are with Baby Be There.

11 - 316 - Bobby Hall & The Kings - Baby Be There
12 - 317 - Paul Williams feat. Larry Dale - The Woman I Love Is Dying

One more of the band of Paul 'Hucklebuck' Williams fronted by guitarist Larry Dale. He was not credited on the label, just like in his previous release that I played earlier this hour. He took the stage name of Larry Dale, only when he signed with RCA and recorded for their Groove subsidiary alongside Mickey Baker and Champion Jack Dupree - his real name was Ennis Lowery. Larry Dale later was found in New York venues together with pianist Bob Gaddy and in the big band of Cootie Williams, and in the early sixties on a party blues Let The Doorbell Ring and a cover of Drinkin' Wine-Spo-Dee-O-Dee that he did for the Atlantic label.

Next one more of Lightnin' Hopkins. On Jax number 318, here is his Automobile Blues.

13 - 318 - Lightnin Hopkins - Automobile Blues
14 - 319 - Ramblers - 50 50 love

The vocal group the Ramblers on Jax number 319 with 50 50 love - and the strange thing is that after the Kings, the group that I played two of before today, after they left Jax to record with the MGM label, they briefly changed their name into the Ramblers but they were another group than this one. The thing is, in '54 Bob Shad started a new label named Harlem and their press release named the Kings as one of the groups on the roster - not knowing the group was trying their luck somewhere else.

That was a year later - here are the Kings still led by tenor Bobby Hall - in later sessions he still was in the group but he didn't do the lead anymore and their next session for the Shad brothers got on record as the Four Kings. Listen to Love No One.

15 - 320 - Bobby Hall & The Kings - Love No One
16 - 321 - Lightnin' Hopkins - Contrary Mary
17 - 322 - Brownie McGhee - New Bad Blood Blues

And Brownie McGhee ends the show for today, with his New Bad Blood Blues on Jax number 322, and before that you got Contrary Mary of Lightnin' Hopkins. Today was all about the Jax label of the brothers Bob and Morty Shad, and it was one of the many labels they owned, and most important and well-known of them is the Sittin' In With label. Today's show was all in the fifties - Rhythm & Blues had more and more grown apart from the jazz, and Rock 'n Roll was just to start off.

Now mostly it's some older stuff that you're used from me, and I hope you enjoyed today's show. Of course you can always let me know, feedback is much appreciated. To get in contact with me, send e-mail to

All of today's information is to be found on the website of this program. Easiest way to get there is to search Google for the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman and it will show up first. Once in, this is show number 266 in the episodes list, but of course you can also look for the label's name, Jax.

For now I'm done. Next week I'll be bringing you more of the best of Rhythm & Blues. So I hope to meet you again, here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman!