Born Earl Edward Bush on 25 august 1935, Gregg County, Texas
Eddie Bush was Carl Mann's guitarist. Few guitar players have a sound as instantly recognizable as Eddie's. Bush was a supremely gifted guitar player, who sadly had a permanent wanderlust. This made him into a hobo wandering around the USA, playing wherever he could for money to eat and a bed for the night.
Eddie was five years older than Carl and before their first meeting in 1957, Bush had already been in the service in Hawaii and had played as a staff guitarist on the Louisiana Hayride. Bush and Mann were brought together by Jimmie Martin, owner of the small Jaxon label in Jackson, Tennessee. Carl already had his own band, the Kool Kats, when he auditioned for Martin in early 1957, at the ripe old age of 14. Jimmie agreed to cut a single with Carl, but he decided that he wanted to use Eddie Bush, Junior Vestal and himself as backing musicians instead of the Kool Kats, to achieve a more professional sound. The single, "Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight"/"Rockin' Love" was released in April 1957 on Jaxon 502. Carl paid all the session expenses himself and got 350 copies. So the record never stood a chance. Eddie also cut his own (vocal) single for Jaxon, "I'm Confused About You"/"Little Darlin'" (Jaxon 503), but like Carl's record, this one never got much further than the Jackson city limits. Both sides are pure country (nothing to write home about) and are available on the Stomper Time CD mentioned at the bottom of this piece.
It didn't take Carl Mann long to realize that he was heading nowhere on Jaxon. Carl formed a new combo with himself on vocals and piano, Eddie on guitar, Robert Oatsvall on bass and Tony Moore on drums. The next step for Carl and his new band was to approach Sun Records. Eddie and Carl kept going to the Sun studio with their demo tapes, but they never got anywhere until they hooked up with W.S. Holland, who would become the drummer in Carl's band. It was Cecil Scaife, Sun's promotion manager, who took the initiative to sign Mann. Though "Mona Lisa" was recorded in October 1958, it was not released until six months later, after it became clear to Sam Phillips that MGM was going to put out a version by Conway Twitty (which used the same arrangement). Carl's version reached # 25 on the Billboard charts. The follow-up, recorded in August 1959, was another revival of a Nat King Cole hit, "Pretend", which went to # 57. Both these hits bear the stamp of Eddie Bush's unusual guitar style. Many Sun sessions would follow, always with Eddie on guitar, but at the age of 17, Carl's career already began its downward slide. Unable to handle the rigours of heavy touring, he soon become an alcoholic. Unfortunately, the same fate befell Eddie Bush.
But in 1960, Carl continued to sell records in respectable quantities and in that year he even had an LP released ("Like Mann", Phillips International PLP 60). Four of the twelve tracks on that (excellent) album were written by Eddie : "Baby I Don't Care" (which Eddie also recorded himself later that year, Phillips International 3558), "I'm Bluer Than Anyone Else Could Be", "Island Of Love" and "Walkin' And Thinkin'" (also recorded by Eddie, but shelved until the appearance of Carl's Bear Family box-set in 1993). Bush shows himself to be a pretty good songwriter with these songs. With Carl, he also wrote "Crazy Fool", "Ain't You Got No Lovin' For Me", "It Really Doesn't Matter Now" and "If I Could Change You" (in this last case, Eddie sold his share to guitarist Kelso Herston). All pleasant, very melodic songs.
At some point there was a conflict between Eddie and Sam Phillips, of which the details are fuzzy. Eddie appears to have gone back to the Louisiana Hayride for a while to play with Carl Belew, but in the end he did return to Sun. As a singer, his vocal style was strongly influenced by Carl Mann's. Eddie also left a fairly large legacy of instrumentals at Sun, but his best work is in support of Carl.
After Carl left Sun in 1962, Eddie started drifting. The pair was reunited after Carl's return to civilian life after a spell in the US Army. Mann was signed by Monument Records in 1966. Eddie plays guitar on the A-side of Carl's sole Monument single, "Serenade Of the Bells" (Monument 974) and wrote the B-side, "Down To My Last I Forgive You". Every few years, Eddie would appear for a short while back in Jackson, but, despite Carl's best efforts, he could not persuade Bush to settle back in the area and, shortly after. Bush would leave again. After a very long period of time, during which Eddie did not return to Jackson, Carl finally found out that Eddie had died near Oklahoma City in the early 1990's. According to Carl he is buried in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. He will be remembered as one of the most original guitar players of the rock n roll era.
Acknowledgements : - Colin Escott and Hank Davis, Book accompanying the 4-CD Bear Family box-set "Carl Mann : Mona Lisa" (BCD 15713), released in 1993.
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