Liner notes for Glen Glenn, Glen Rocks , Bear Family Records
Originally published in 2003
It seems to be etched in stone that rock and roll was invented in Memphis, Tennessee, one summer night in 1954 by a young truck driver named Elvis Presley. Many would have you believe that Memphis was the only city in America where such a convergence of white and black music could occur, and that young Mr. Presley was a genius of the highest order who created rock and roll single-handedly from his own design.
Of course, this notion is false. Just as there were dozens of people at the turn of the century working on the invention of the automobile, the real story behind the invention of rock and roll is a convoluted one, filled with more interesting twists and turns than the Mississippi River.
Our story concerns another very important city at a very important time—Los Angeles, California, in the 1950s—and two energetic young musicians who came of age during this exciting time period: Glenn Troutman, aka Glenn Trout, aka Glen Glenn, and his guitar-playing compatriot, Gary Lambert.
Perhaps nowhere in America was there such a diverse melting of cultures as Los Angeles at mid-century. Hillbillies from the South worked side by side with Mexican immigrants, African Americans came from the eastern United States for the multitude of factory jobs, and scores of other cultures converged in Southern California as well.
Along with this vast influx of immigrants came some of the finest music from across the country. Dust Bowl migrants such as the Maddox Brothers and Rose brought rowdy hillbilly and country music from their native Alabama to the West Coast; African American performers such as Louis Jordan, Pee Wee Crayton, and Slim Gaillard brought their rhythm and blues and jazz to Central Avenue in Los Angeles; Jewish music impresarios like Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller produced doo-wop and blues within the black community; and the sounds of Mexico wafted from almost every neighborhood from the San Fernando Valley to San Diego, wherever there were Mexican immigrants.
This was the atmosphere that bred Glenn and his music, and that inspired the guitar playing of Gary Lambert. A richer mixture of musical inspiration could hardly be imagined. While Elvis certainly was the important catalyst in the explosion of rock and roll, the fact is that the seeds had already been planted all across the country, and it was just a matter of time before this new music sprang to life.
Glenn’s records rank as some of the finest of the era, and they have stood the test of time as perhaps the best examples of rockabilly to emerge from Los Angeles in the 1950s. Although all of Glenn’s singles, demos, and live tracks have been reissued before, in a series of seven vinyl albums and compact discs, this is the first attempt at a comprehensive collection of everything together in one place.
This disc represents all of the original single recordings that Glenn made for ERA and Dore Records in the 1950s and early 1960s as well as several alternate takes, demos, and live recordings. The rest of the alternate takes, demos, and live recordings will be issued next year on a companion disc.
The story of Glen Glenn begins in Joplin, Missouri, where he was born Orin Glenn Troutman on October 24, 1934. Joplin was a small town tucked away in the Ozark Mountains, and country music figured heavily in its heritage (Grand Ole Opry member Porter Wagoner was also from the same area, and is in fact Glenn’s cousin by marriage).
Orin was soon being called by his middle name, Glenn, to avoid confusion with his father Orin Orville Troutman, and the name stuck. His parents Louise and Orin had a love for country music and encouraged young Glenn in his musical pursuits from an early age. The family radio was often tuned to station KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Glenn first heard Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Once Glenn heard Wills he was hooked on country music. Eventually he began tuning in to the Grand Ole Opry and soaking up influences from Roy Acuff to Little Jimmy Dickens, Red Foley, Ernest Tubb, and many other country stars. From a very young age Glenn tried his own hand at singing, often imitating his country music idols.
Fate intervened in 1948 when the Troutman family loaded up the truck and moved westward to San Dimas, California, located about an hour east of Los Angeles. Like thousands of others from the South, Glenn’s family came west for the promise of a better life. Little did they know the sorts of opportunities it would open up for the burgeoning musician in their family.
In addition to the country music he knew and loved, Glenn soon found himself listening late at night to a famed Los Angeles disc jockey, Dick “Huggy Boy” Hugg, on a local black radio station that played blues, R&B, and vocal groups. The music he heard would have a profound influence on him.
In 1950 or 1951 Glenn bought a Gibson guitar and then a Martin D-28, and he spent virtually every waking minute teaching himself all the songs he heard on the radio. Eventually he met a kindred spirit in Gary Lambert, a fellow high school student who played hot guitar and was looking for someone to play with.
Gary was from La Verne, a small community just down the road from San Dimas. He had quite a local reputation as a hot picker and impressed nearly everybody who heard him play. His style was half Merle Travis and Chet Atkins thumbpicking, and half Joe Maphis flatpicking, and it was well suited to the material Glenn was interested in at the time. Gary was in a comfortable enough position to afford some of the finest equipment (see sidebar below), and this too bolstered his reputation locally. Gary had a regular square-dance gig, and soon Glenn was joining him on rhythm guitar. After the two got together, they were soon rehearsing an act as a duo. All this excitement caught up with Glenn, and he dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade to pursue music full time.
Glenn and Gary began making the rounds as perpetual hangers-on. Even though they were too young to get into most shows, they would stand outside and listen to the music, soaking it all in. They would often go to the Riverside Rancho near Griffith Park, where the setup enabled them to stand directly outside the club and hear the music. One of their fondest memories involves guitar legend Joe Maphis, who played the Riverside Rancho every Sunday night. Glenn and Gary would go and listen to him from outside every week, and eventually Joe became so taken with the boys that he would come outside and smoke cigarettes during his break and talk to them, offering advice about how to break into the local country music business.
Joe Maphis, if you’re unfamiliar with the name, was a hugely influential figure in Los Angeles country music history. He and his wife, Rose Lee, had a honky-tonk hit with Joe’s composition “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music),” but it was his guitar playing that left the biggest mark. He was one of the fastest guitar players who ever lived, and he wore the crown “King of the Strings” for his prowess on any stringed instrument: guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, or bass. Starting in 1954 he was the leader of the house band on the popular Town Hall Party television show, where he was watched by everyone from Compton Okies to the Beverly Hills elite. (Be sure and check out Bear Family’s collection of Joe’s greatest instrumental recordings, Flying Fingers, for insight into this amazing musician.)
Joe told Glenn and Gary about an amateur contest being held on Sundays at the Rancho by a local disc jockey, the “Squeakin’ Deacon” from country station KXLA in Pasadena. Every Sunday they would broadcast a live radio show from within the Riverside Rancho. It was a two-hour show, the first hour being the amateur contest, the second hour featuring big-name stars like Joe Maphis and Merle Travis.
Glenn and Gary went down one Sunday and entered the contest and, to their amazement, won the prize the first time out, singing a version of Joe and Rose Lee Maphis’s “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke.” The prize was a wristwatch, but the real reward was the encouragement it offered the two youngsters. Glenn recalls not being able to sleep for about a week afterwards, he was so excited.
Glenn and Gary, now billed as the Missouri Mountain Boys (even though Glenn was the only one actually from Missouri), made the rounds to all the Los Angeles-area country music shows. They made sure they were always seen, showing up like clockwork at the Town Hall Party in Compton and Cliffie Stone’s Hometown Jamboree in El Monte. They knew how to sneak backstage at all these venues, and they befriended many of the artists, including Lefty Frizzell, Gene O’Quin, Merle Travis, the Collins Kids, Johnny Horton. The hundreds of backstage photographs that Glenn began taking at this time are evidence of the sheer number of musicians they were rubbing elbows with.
The pair auditioned for both the Town Hall Party and the Hometown Jamboree, but they didn’t find a regular paying gig until they struck pay dirt with the County Barn Dance in Baldwin Park, just down the road from El Monte.
The County Barn Dance was another fixture on the crowded Saturday night roster of live televised country music shows in Los Angeles. It featured an impressive roster that included Les “Carrot Top” Anderson, Skeets McDonald, the White Brothers (Clarence and Roland White, in their pre-Kentucky Colonels and Byrds days), and Gary Lambert’s future wife, Jean, who appeared with an act called the Three Country Girls, later renamed the Smith Sisters. The show also had many guest stars each week, and it was here that Glenn and Gary befriended aspiring guitarist Eddie Cochran, who was then half of the Cochran Brothers act. Glenn and Gary appeared regularly on the County Barn Dance throughout the years 1954 and 1955, and they became quite well known throughout the local country music community.
Their association with Eddie Cochran became quite close over the next couple of years. In addition to appearances on the County Barn Dance, Glenn and Gary did a show with the Cochran Brothers during a short stint living in Northern California in 1956 when the Cochran Brothers were doing the same thing. By all accounts Gary Lambert and Eddie Cochran bonded through their love for Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and other hot pickers (both bought brand new Gretsch guitars around this time), and in fact Gary recorded quite a few home demos of the two of them playing together, which were collected on the Stomper Time CD Eddie Cochran and Gary Lambert. Eddie also loaned out his bass player, Connie “Guybo” Smith, to Glenn and Gary for live shows and recording over the years. Glenn recalls that when Eddie went solo and started having hits, he started hanging with the rock and roll crowd and they didn’t see him around their country music shows any more.
It was during 1954 and 1955 that Glenn first began recording. Most of these recordings were primitive home demos done on Gary Lambert’s portable recorder. Other early recordings that have survived are from live television and radio performances that were taped by their close friend Glenn Mueller on his reel-to-reel recorder (off the radio or TV).
Perhaps Glenn’s most interesting performance from this time period is “That’s All Right (Mama),” recorded live on radio station KXLA in January 1955. According to Glenn, he had not yet heard Elvis Presley’s Sun Recording of this song, but he had heard country singer Gene O’Quin perform it on the Hometown Jamboree show. It was also around this time that Glenn started trying to incorporate more of the blues and R&B material that he heard on the “Huggy Boy” show into his country music act. Not long after recording “That’s All Right (Mama),” Glenn heard Elvis Presley for the first time and soon was performing rock and roll every chance he could get.
Other early performances included on this disc are rollicking live versions of “Jack and Jill Boogie” and “John Henry,” both recorded on KXLA in May 1955. These recordings really demonstrate the concept of hillbillies latching on to boogie woogie and rhythm and blues and forging ahead with this new music known as rock and roll. By the time Glenn made his next recording in January 1956, he was moving even more into the rock and roll camp, cutting his own versions of “Baby, Let’s Play House” and “Be-Bop-a-Lula,” both included here.
Later in 1956 Glenn had an opportunity to go back to Missouri and tour with his cousin Porter Wagoner. Glenn leapt at the chance and soon was making regular appearances on the popular Ozark Jubilee show broadcast out of Springfield, Missouri. Porter was supportive of Glenn’s forays into rock and roll, and in fact a great version of Glenn singing “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was recorded live at the Ozark Jubilee in July of 1956 with Porter’s band backing him up (they also did a great version of “There She Goes” for the country listeners).
Glenn toured with Porter to the East Coast and throughout the Midwest, logging lots of great road stories and rubbing elbows with just about everybody in the business. Porter was also trying to get Glenn his own recording contract with UA Records, but he couldn’t get a deal because the label thought Glenn was stuck between the country and rock and roll markets. This was undoubtedly true, and in fact Glenn has said himself that he was really a country performer doing rock and roll material. Although Glenn had some great experiences with Porter on the road, California was home, and Glenn got homesick for his family and moved back to San Dimas after only a month or so with Porter’s group.
In September 1956, Glenn had his first professional recording session at the Garrison Studio in Long Beach, California. This was a four-song demo of excellent country material that Glenn paid for himself and intended to shop around for a record deal. Although the material was excellent and featured top-notch talent such as Ralph Mooney on steel guitar, Glenn failed to get a recording contract with any of the labels he played the demos for. This disc features one of the tunes from this session, “It Rains Rain,” a great Pete Stamper composition.
Rejoining the County Barn Dance and reuniting with Gary Lambert, the next major figures to emerge in Glenn’s career were the Maddox Brothers and Rose, who were to play a large part in the crucial next phase of his career.
The County Barn Dance had big guest stars every week, from Ray Price to Faron Young, and the Maddox Brothers and Rose were regulars on the show. During this time period, they were perhaps the most popular act on the West Coast, with their wild stage antics and novelty tunes. Fred Maddox (the de facto leader of the group) was particularly smitten with rock and roll music, and he took an instant liking to Glenn and Gary and their brand of rockabilly.
Fred Maddox suggested to Glenn and Gary that they go check out Elvis Presley when he played in San Diego. The show galvanized the two youngsters and reinforced their opinion that they needed to be playing rock and roll instead of country. When they saw all the hundreds of screaming girls, the choice was obvious which direction they’d be taking. Fred took the boys backstage and they struck up a friendship with Elvis, Scotty, Bill, and D.J. They would visit Elvis once more when he came back to the West Coast and stayed at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Hollywood. In fact, Bill Black would later even play on one of Glenn’s demos while visiting with Fred Maddox.
As fate would have it, it was about this time that the Maddox Brothers and Rose were having internal issues, and during a tour to the Pacific Northwest, Rose and Cal Maddox quit the band, leaving Fred in quite a jam. Glenn recalls getting a phone call from Fred Maddox’s wife Kitty, asking him to join them when they returned from the tour. Henry Maddox’s wife Loretta stepped in to replace Rose as lead vocalist, and Glenn was now in Cal’s position as rhythm guitarist and vocalist. Using the name The Maddox Brothers and Retta (short for Loretta), they continued their grueling touring schedule.
This worked out well, as many country acts were now bringing young rock and rollers along on tour as a novelty act. Glenn would play rhythm guitar while the others sang, and he played straight man to Fred Maddox’s jokes. Then Fred would bring him to the microphone to do a few Elvis Presley hits of the day.
Glenn toured extensively with the Maddox Brothers and Retta, recalling that they burned up a brand-new 1956 Cadillac in only nine months, with all the miles they put on the car. Eventually the group decided that the lineup with Retta wasn’t working out, and Fred decided to quit touring so much and work regularly in Southern California. Fred put Glenn in charge of the house band at the Copa Club in Pomona, which Glenn affectionately termed “Fred Maddox’s Playhouse.” This new base of operations brought in a stellar roster of guest stars, and Glenn wound up meeting just about every star who toured through the area, including Johnny Cash and Buck Owens, to name just two. Fred loved to kid around and call Glenn by his new stage name “Glen Trout the Stinkin’ Fisherman,” a play on Johnny Horton as the “Singing Fisherman.” This was the first time Glenn’s name had been changed for the stage, and he stuck with Glenn Trout for a year or two until it was changed yet again to his better-known moniker.
Glenn got back together with Gary Lambert around this time, and they recorded several home demo tunes at Gary’s house, many of which are included here. A session on May 12, 1957, yielded three excellent performances, including “Don’t You Love Me,” an original by Glenn, and covers of Mac Curtis’s “If I Had Me a Woman” and Sonny Fisher’s “Hold Me Baby.” Asked about how he knew such unknown (at the time) rockabilly classics, Glenn reports that he and Gary had gotten into the practice of taking the unwanted rockabilly records sent as promos to KXLA, who wouldn’t play them, thus discovering many great obscure songs.
Around this time, Fred Maddox also convinced local car dealer Cal Worthington to have Maddox’s band on the newly launched television show Cal’s Corral, which was broadcast live every Sunday afternoon for three hours.
Luckily, Glenn’s friend Glenn Mueller archived many of his live appearances on reel-to-reel tape, and they have been reissued in recent years. Several recordings exist from Squeakin’ Deacon’s show on KXLA with the Maddox band backing Glenn up, including “Baby Let’s Play House” and “Be-Bop-a-Lula.”
Glenn’s records rank as some of the finest of the era, and they have stood the test of time as perhaps the best examples of rockabilly to emerge from Los Angeles in the 1950s.
Shortly thereafter, Fred Maddox left Cal’s Corral over a pay dispute. Apparently Cal Worthington didn’t want to pay the bands for playing on his show, even though the musician’s union insisted that he pay everybody union scale. Cal then wrote checks to the musicians and instructed them to sign and return the checks to him without cashing them, thus getting around the union requirements. Cal then discovered that Fred Maddox was not only cashing the checks he wasn’t supposed to cash, but that he was cashing his entire band’s checks and keeping everybody’s money! Suffice to say Fred wasn’t on the show after that.
Glenn remained on the show and although they are not included here, tracks from this time will be included on the second disc of this series. These Cal’s Corral live recordings from late 1957 include the classic rock and roll lineup of Glenn’s band, including Gary Lambert back on lead guitar, Connie “Guybo” Smith on loan from Eddie Cochran’s band on bass, and Joe O’Dell on drums.
It was this lineup that Glenn would finally take into the studio on December 3, 1957, to record his first official rockabilly demo. As with the earlier country session, Glenn paid for it himself, intending to use it to get signed to a record label. Wynn Stewart, a fellow Missourian transplanted to California, had had Glenn appear on his show and had been using Gary Lambert as his guitar player on several dates. Wynn had been after Glenn for some time to get a recording contract and make some records. Glenn told Wynn about his failed country demos, and Wynn lit a fire under Glenn to do a rockabilly demo and shop it around.
Although Wynn would go on to record for Challenge and Capitol and eventually became one of the originators of the Bakersfield sound with such excellent records as “Wishful Thinking” and “It’s Such a Pretty World Today,” at this stage of the game he was just another country singer gone rockabilly in the hopes of latching on to some of that Presley magic. He had just cut a great rocker for Jackpot Records, “Come On” (which Glenn would later cover on his 1980s comeback record), and he was after Glenn to capitalize on the rockabilly fad while it was still hot. (Be sure and check out Bear Family’s excellent Wynn Stewart boxed set for more from this talented artist.)
Glenn brought his band (which included Gary Lambert, “Guybo” Smith, and Joe O’Dell) into the studio. They were augmented by Wynn Stewart on rhythm guitar and Gary’s fiancee Jean Smith (soon to be Jean Lambert) and her sister Glenda, along with Beverly Stewart, singing backup. They cut two songs that day: Wally Lewis’s “Kathleen” and Stewart’s composition “One Cup of Coffee (and a Cigarette).”
Glenn immediately took the acetate dubs and began shopping them around to all the Los Angeles–area labels. One of his first stops was Imperial Records, where Jimmy Haskell asked Glenn to leave one of the dubs for them to consider. What Glenn didn’t know was that Haskell was really only interested in the arrangement on “Kathleen,” which he borrowed lock, stock, and barrel for his upcoming Ricky Nelson recording of “Poor Little Fool.” It was a harsh lesson for Glenn and straight out of the plot of the newly released Presley movie Jailhouse Rock. Back in the 1950s, these sorts of things happened on a regular basis.
Glenn had more luck at ERA Records, which was owned by Lou Bidell and Herb Newman. ERA had just enjoyed massive successes in the pop market with Gogi Grant’s “The Wayward Wind” and “Suddenly There’s a Valley.” Bidell and Newman were looking to cross over into the teenage market, and Glenn was exactly what they were looking for: a good-looking young rockabilly kid with some catchy rock and roll songs. They signed Glenn to a contract and a scant six weeks after making his demo, Glenn was at the famed Gold Star Studios in Hollywood recording for ERA. What Bidell and Newman didn’t know was that in another twist of fate echoing Elvis Presley’s life, Glenn had received his draft notice in the mail, and Gary Lambert had agreed to volunteer at the same time so they could be stationed together.
January 8, 1958, marked the day that Glenn Troutman nee Glenn Trout would forever be known in the music world as Glen Glenn. Newly rechristened by the ERA bigwigs for the teen market, Glen brought his band back to the studio and in one day cut the bulk of the material that his legend rests upon—four of the best rockabilly songs ever committed to tape. “Everybody’s Movin’” and “I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone” were both written by Glen, and two were by Wynn Stewart: a new recording of “One Cup of Coffee (and a Cigarette)” and another great slow rocker, “Would Ya.” Several versions of each song were recorded that day, and the original 45 versions have only ever appeared on the 1977 Chiswick Hollywood Rock and Roll compilation. Subsequent reissues such as The Glen Glenn Story on ACE and California Rockabilly on Sunjay have made ample use of the alternate versions. Here, all of the takes used on the 45s are collected together for the first time since the vinyl release of Hollywood Rock and Roll.
The Glen Glenn sound, as defined by these classic recordings, was fairly unusual. It was rock and roll, but it wasn’t wild and it wasn’t at a breakneck speed. It had country elements such as Glen’s hick-inflected vocals and Gary Lambert’s twangy guitar, but had the necessary rockabilly backbeat to make the Presley teenagers go for it. The songs were catchy and described the rockabilly hoodlum lifestyle in a simple way that anyone could latch on to (they definitely played a part in the English teddy-boy popularity of Glen’s records in the 1970s). The excellent production by the experienced hands at Gold Star (who were also responsible for Eddie Cochran’s hits, Ritchie Valens’s “La Bamba,” and many others) contributed mightily to the fantastic sound on these records, with perfect slapping bass thumping away at the bottom end and Gary Lambert’s great lead guitar loudly mixed into the top end.
Glen’s first single, “Everybody’s Movin’” backed with “I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone,” was released as ERA 1061 in late January 1958, less than two weeks after he had recorded it. The song was doing well and could have been a hit, but in a cruel twist of fate Glen and Gary had to report for active duty in the Army just two weeks after the recording session.
When Glen told Bidell and Newman at ERA about his draft notice, they let him know that they wouldn’t have signed him if they had known he wouldn’t be around to promote the records. From that point on, ERA didn’t sink their full promotional muscle into Glen’s releases. It’s one of the great rock and roll “What if?” stories, and one wonders whether Glen Glenn would today be a household word if Uncle Sam hadn’t come calling.
Nevertheless, ERA still had faith in Glen’s talent, and they wanted to record more material. After Glen and Gary’s initial eight-week basic training at Ford Ord in Central California, they received a two-week leave. During that time, on April 4, 1958, they returned to Gold Star studios and laid down more legendary tracks: “Blue Jeans and a Boys Shirt” a songwriting collaboration between Glen and Bobby George, and “Laurie Ann,” basically a rewriting of “Kathleen” by Wally Lewis, Ned Miller, and Bonnie Guitar. They did several takes of each song that day, which have seen the light of day in recent years (one alternate of each is included here). The band on that session was the same as at the January session, with the added voices of the female backup singers from the earlier Garrison studio session (the Smith Sisters, Jean and Glenda, plus Beverly Stewart).
ERA released Glen’s second single in June of 1958—”Laurie Ann” backed with “One Cup of Coffee”—as ERA 1074. Again, the single had serious hit potential, but by this point Glen and Gary were stationed at Scofield Barracks Army Base in Honolulu and couldn’t do much to help their careers. It was here that Glenn Troutman received the telegram from ERA Records informing him that his name was now Glen Glenn! Glen recalls hearing his song on the radio and listening helplessly, knowing that he couldn’t do anything to promote it back in the states. Further tragedy ensued when Dick Clark tried to get Glen for a personal appearance on American Bandstand to perform “Laurie Ann,” but his commanding officer wouldn’t let him fly back to the U.S. Although Dick Clark made “Laurie Ann” a Pick of the Week, and it made several local charts, including number two on Los Angeles station KRLA, the record didn’t get the push it deserved and once again Glen was robbed of a hit.
During Glen and Gary’s tenure in Hawaii they managed to perform quite a bit and befriended local DJ Tom Moffatt, who featured Glen as an opening act for several visiting shows, including one spectacular three-day gig at the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu in July 1958 with the Everly Brothers, the Four Preps, Bobby Day, and Robin Luke. Glen is in great form in the photos that survive from this show, doing all the Presley moves and really setting the crowd on fire.
During their time in Hawaii, Glen and Gary did manage to record another tune at least once. They took some local musicians and went into Webley Edwards’s studio in Honolulu to cut the great “Kitty Kat,” which had been written for them by their friend Glenn Mueller (the same one who had taped the live performances over the years). Although this was one of their best songs and performances, it sat in the can until it was eventually released in the ‘70s.
ERA Records continued to believe in Glen, even though he was unable to tour and promote his records, and they released his third 45 in early 1959 as ERA 1086: “Blue Jeans and a Boy’s Shirt” backed with “Would Ya.” The record was a great rockabilly two-sider, but, predictably, it failed to make a dent and has become the hardest to find of all of Glen’s ERA records.
In 1959 Lou Bidell and Herb Newman split ERA Records into two labels, with Bidell retaining rights to ERA and Newman striking out with the new Dore label, which was meant to cater to the new pop teen idol market. Newman figured Glen’s ticket to stardom might reside in the Bobby Rydell / Bobby Vinton vein, and when Glen took another leave back to the states in February 1959, he brought him back to the studio.
This time around, Glen was backed by Ernie Freeman’s band (which included the legendary Plas Johnson on saxophone) and two sides were cut: “Suzie Green from Abilene” and “Goofin’ Around,” and they were released as Dore 523. Neither was written by Glen. Although they weren’t bad songs, they didn’t suit Glen’s style and it was obvious that this wasn’t the right direction for him. The 45 was released in late 1959 and, once again, with Glen in the Army and unable to promote it, it sunk without a trace. “Suzie Green from Abilene” makes its first reissue appearance here on this collection; it hasn’t been reissued anywhere since its original 45 rpm release in 1959!
Glen and Gary returned to California in early 1960 after their two-year stint in the Army. At first, things seemed to fall back into place, with Glen and Gary making appearances on Cal’s Corral again and playing gigs for Fred Maddox, but the music industry had changed while they were overseas. Gone was the fire of rockabilly, and the country market in Southern California had been permanently injured by rock and roll’s new pop direction. Many of California’s country musicians had left for Las Vegas and Reno, where there was still regular work to be found. Others, like Glen Glenn and Gary Lambert, found day jobs and settled into “normal” life.
Glen began working for General Dynamics in 1960, and soon thereafter he met Mary Forrester, who became his wife in 1961. With a regular job and two kids, Glen didn’t have as much time for music, but he and Gary continued to perform together at the Palomino Club and other small Southern California honky-tonks throughout the 1960s. Gary went back into his family’s construction business and played throughout the ‘60s as a guitarist for just about every local country band in the Inland Empire. He also went on to raise a family with his wife, Jean.
Glen and Gary recorded one more track together for Dore in 1961 at Gold Star studios: “I’ll Never Stop Loving You,” which was a solid Marty Robbins–type pop-country effort. The session was incomplete, with no final take of the song finished that day. It sat in the can for three years until Glen returned to Gold Star for one last stand in July 1964, laying down the vocal overdub for “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and recording one more tune in order to have enough songs for a new 45 release.
This last session was quite the star-studded affair, with A-list session musicians Jerry Cole on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, and Ritchie Frost on drums, all of whom appeared on many Los Angeles–produced hit records by (for instance) the Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, and others. The session yielded the fun novelty tune “I Still Didn’t Have the Sense to Go,” which was paired with “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and released as Dore 717 in the fall of 1964. This record turned out to be Glen’s last 45. The advent of the Beatles effectively killed Glen’s chance at stardom, and apart from a demo recording done at his house (“It’s a Sad Thing to See”), this would be the last recording he would make in the original era of rock and roll.
The story doesn’t quite end here, however. Although Glen faded into obscurity in America, his records were prized and revered by the burgeoning teddy-boy ‘50s revival scene in England and Europe starting in the late 1960s. With the 1977 release of “Hollywood Rock and Roll” on England’s Chiswick Records, Glen’s classic rockabilly sides were rediscovered by a slew of young rockabilly fanatics. “Everybody’s Movin’” became a standard in the rockabilly songbook. Ace Records released a best-selling album of alternate takes and live recordings, The Glen Glenn Story, that sold incredibly well for an obscure rockabilly artist such as Glen. After its encouraging sales, Glen and Gary Lambert, his old guitar-playing buddy, went into the studio and recorded a new album, Everybody’s Movin’ Again, for Ace Records, which also sold well.
Glen and Gary began performing again around Los Angeles, backed by young new bands who idolized them: Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio, for instance, and my band, the Dave and Deke Combo. Eventually Glen finally relented to the many offers he had received from Europe and flew overseas to perform at the English Hemsby Festival and other festivals across Europe.
Glen’s influence, via the slew of reissue recordings, was quite surprising to him. He discovered that Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan had all performed “Everybody’s Movin’” in their live concerts. Dylan even personally asked Glen to open a Hollywood Palladium show for him, marking a personal high point in a career that had already spanned over forty years.
Unlike many other original rockers, Glen has saved just about every picture and newspaper clipping about his career, along with many acetates, records, reel-to-reel tapes, and other memorabilia. It is this unusual attention to detail that allows us to present to you the incredible booklet that accompanies this CD of Glen’s music. Kudos to Glen for saving these precious memories for all of his fans to enjoy years later!
Glen Glenn and Gary Lambert are still around, playing the occasional show and meeting with visiting fans who love to hear their stories from the past. Glen loves the attention from the young fans who idolize him as one of rockabilly’s original architects. It is with pleasure and pride that we release this definitive edition of his music for future generations to enjoy all over again.
Glen Glenn and Gary Lambert and their custom-made guitars!
Many fans have looked at the pictures of Glen Glenn and Gary Lambert from the 1950s and wondered: What are those guitars they’re playing?
In the 1950s it was considered a mark of having “made it” to own your own customized instrument. Many famous country music stars such as Hank Thompson and Lefty Frizzell performed with customized Bigsby acoustic guitars, replete with gaudy pickguards inlaid with their names. Lead guitarists such as Joe Maphis and Merle Travis also often had their own custom-made and modified guitars and amps. This was the culture that Glen and Gary grew up in, and so they too set out to have their own custom instruments.
Gary Lambert was first, having the legendary Semie Moseley of Mosrite guitars modify his Gretsch Country Club guitar after an accident left it without a headstock. Semie attached a large D’Angelico-style headstock, which Gary designed. Gary and his buddy Eddie Cochran had bought Gretsch guitars because they were both Chet Atkins fanatics.
Gary was also the envy of all of his friends for owning two of the rarest and most expensive amplifiers made at the time: a Standel like the ones Joe Maphis and Merle Travis played, and a Ray Butts Echo-Sonic like the ones Chet Atkins and Scotty Moore played. You can hear the Echo-Sonic on these recordings; it is identifiable from the similar sound on Elvis Presley’s recordings.
Soon thereafter Glen and Gary made the acquaintance of a young custom guitar maker in El Monte, California, by the name of R. C. Allen. Allen had modified guitars for Merle Travis and Jimmy Bryant, and he also made his own custom guitars. Allen made a custom solidbody for Gary that had the body and headstock shape of a Bigsby guitar, with the pickups, inlaid gingerbread pickguards, and armrest of a Mosrite guitar. (As of this writing, this guitar is on display at Guitar Maniacs in Tacoma, Washington, if you care to see it!) Allen continued to make custom guitars for Gary Lambert up until the 1980s and is still around making guitars in El Monte.
R. C. Allen also modified Glen’s Martin D-28 guitar, replacing the neck with a Bigsby-style headstock and making a custom pickguard that said “Glenn Trout” on it. After Glen’s name was changed to Glen Glenn, he modified it once more around 1959 to a dark tobacco finish and a pickguard that said “Glen Glenn.” Glen still has this guitar and uses it at his personal appearances.
With special thanks to Glen, Gary Lambert, and Glenn Mueller.