CHUCK COMER (By Bo Berglind and Tony Wilkinson)
Born 27 July, 1934, Arkansas. Died 11 January 2013.
In the mid-fifties, Chuck Comer had an early morning radio show over radio KNBY out of Newport, Arkansas, and it was on this show that the voice of Larry Donn was first heard over the airwaves. After a club date in 1958 (probably at the Clover Club on Highway 67, Swifton, Arkansas), Donn and his band were invited by Comer to lay down some recordings at the radio station. Chuck broadcast the results the next morning during his radio show.
Chuck had his own band that included, at one time, Teddy Redell on piano and vocalist / guitar player Tommy Wagner. The last mentioned was a protégé of Comer's with the result that Chuck promoted him heavily. However, as far as we can ascertain, Tommy never had a release in his own right, although his brother, Jimmy, has a release on Joe Lee's Alley Records in the early sixties. In early 1959, Arlen arranged for a recording session by Comer at the KLCN studio with Kern Kennedy on piano, J.C. Caughron on guitar, Bob Mickey on drums and possibly Frankie Sudduth on bass. Back up vocalists on the recording date were Tommy Wagner, Arlen Vaden and Aaron Vaden (Arlen's brother). The session produced the superb country rocker "Little More Lovin'" backed with the blallad "Shall We Dance, for Vaden Records (Vaden 302), both songs composed by Comer.
For a while Chuck toured with the Vaden show as many of the musicians were his band members such as Teddy Redell on piano, the aforementioned Tommy Wagner, who, apart from being the featured lead vocalist also doubled on lead guitar, and Tommy Holder who played electric rhythm guitar on Larry Donn's "Honey Bun" session. The outfit made some appearances on the Gene Williams television show in the sixties. However, as band members came and went, Comer eventually chose to concentrate on his radio career and moved to KOSE in Osceola, Arkansas, and later to KSUD in West Memphis. Chuck did return to the recording studios on occasion with the result that there were a couple of releases on the Gene Williams Cottontown Jubilee label, namely "A Love That Never Dies" / "I Had My Fingers Crossed" (CTJ 106) and "What Are We Gonna Do" / "I'm the Luckiest Guy In the World". Also for the same label was "I Like Your Company", but this only saw the light of day for the first time much later on the German Rundell label album "Cotton Town Jubilee" (LP 015 and CD 4). In addition, there was at least one release on the West Memphis CMC label with "My Adobe Hacienda"/"You Ain't Nothing But A Heartache" (7696) which was co-produced by Roland Janes, plus one song ("Juke Box Serenade") on a six-track EP issued on Eddie Bond's Millionaire Records (698B-3587). Comer also recorded three songs for producer and steel guitar picker virtuoso Pete Drake in Nashville. ---------------------
P.S. by Dik: On July 27, 2003, I wrote a short piece (for Born To Be With You, as the feature was then called) about Comer, which is archived on Marijn's website (Blackcat Rockabilly):
Chuck Comer's career as a rock 'n' roll singer was short-lived and commercially unsuccessful, but he carved his own little piece of R&R history with the 1960 single "Little More Lovin'" (Vaden 302), on which Teddy Redell plays piano. Until recently, Comer was one of those mysterious rockers about whom information was hard to come by, but earlier this year somebody tracked him down and interviewed him for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. The results can be read at: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/ChuckComer.html "Little More Lovin'" is available on the Various Artists CD "Vaden Records, Trumann, Arkansas" (HeronRock Music CD 501) aka the "Vaden Rock 'n' Roll Story".
Marijn then received a message from Chuck's son, Chuck Comer, Jr., which is interesting enough to reproduce here in full. Notice how Comer keeps using the word "rockabilly" where I was referring to "rock 'n' roll".
"I recently visited your website and came across the short article about my father Chuck Comer. I would like to correct a couple of things, however, that I feel are in error. Although Teddy Redell did play with my father's group and vice versa on occasion, he was not the piano player on "Little More Lovin'".. The pianist, in fact, was Kern Kennedy, who also played for Sonny Burgess. Though the song may have inadvertently become my father's one real claim to "fame", as per being issued on several overseas rockabilly compilations, it was not intended as a rockabilly song. In fact, upon recent discussion with him, it was originally intended to be a country recording and a demo was made of it with a steel guitar played, I believe, by J.C. Caughron. I would love to have copies of that demo to share. From my understandings, it was only done rockabilly as a pure afterthought. The only other rockabilly style recording I am aware of was a jam session in which he and his band ran through a song called "I Like Your Company". This demo is also available on CD, but at the time I do not have the label information. I became aware of this recording just a few years ago and was very excited when we obtained a copy. From the arrangements and the overall styles of the musicians, I would put it at being recorded around the time he made two records for Gene Williams's "Cotton Town Jubilee" label. In fact, I am aware that some labels in Europe have issued recordings from the Cotton Town Jubilee label. I would love to see the four songs he recorded for CTJ being released on a CD in the future.
On a separate note, yes I suppose you could say that his rockabilly career was commercially unsuccessful. However, he didn't set out to be a rockabilly artist, as his roots were firmly planted in country music. I feel the notoriety he has received for the recordings that have surfaced and been issued on CD's makes up for this. Over the years he had other songs recorded by artists that have had moderate success such as Sonny Williams, Sylvia Mobley, Bob Fowler, Smokey Miller, Jack Eirwin, Johnny Duncan and Leona Williams. To play and sing was basically the success he looked for, and unfortunately this is not the way many artists of the day look at the industry. The fact that people such as yourself care enough to bring these artists to light is a fine reward. Thank you for your time and hard work in this area.
Chuck Comer, Jr.
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