Born Lattie Harrison Moore, 17 October 1924, Scottsville, Kentucky
Hillbilly / rockabilly singer, songwriter, guitarist
The name of Lattie Moore is not widely known. He was primarily a country singer but he also released some high-energy recordings which are held in high esteem in rockabilly circles. Some sources even call him “the father of rockabilly”, though he doesn’t get a single mention in Craig Morrison’s book (“Go Cat Go”, 1996) on the history of rockabilly music. Moore's principal influence was Hank Williams ; perhaps his records often loomed too close to Hank’s to have any truly independent influence of their own.
Born in Allen County, Kentucky, in 1924, Lattie Moore worked on the family farm raising tobacco until he was seventeen. He developed an interest in music at an early age and, as a boy, learned to play the guitar, mandolin and upright bass. Lattie's first musical idol was Gene Autry. He was also impressed by Roy Acuff and, later, by Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams. At age 19, Moore hitchhiked 200 miles North to Indianapolis, a city that seemed to offer good opportunities for the professionally-minded musician. A brief stint in the Navy interrupted his intentions, but he didn’t have to serve very long and by the end of 1944 he was back in Indiana, playing small clubs and other minor venues. Later he hosted a radio show on WISH and by 1951 he emceed the Mid-Western Jamboree on WIBC (both stations located in Indianapolis).
His first record, “Hideaway Heart”/“Married Troubles” (the latter surely not auto- biographical - Moore was married to Maxine Frost for 58 years), on the Arrow label from Indianapolis, is extremely rare. One year after this 1951 debut came the disc that can be considered as the first rock & roll record out of Nashville, though at the time nobody knew it. It was the original version of “Juke Joint Johnny” (Moore’s own composition), recorded for the Speed label. The disc featured a very heavy drum sound, in part to cover up the fact that the musicians, apart from Moore and the lead guitarist, hadn’t had time to really learn the song. It was way ahead of its time. Jim Atkins and the Pinetoppers covered “Juke Joint Johnny" on Coral. Lattie himself did a flat-out rock ’n’ roll version (as “Juke Box Johnnie”) in October 1956, for Arc Records ; this time there was a cover version by Red Sovine on Decca. Eddie Bond has also recorded the song, in 1969.
Lattie Moore cut some 25 tracks for the King label of Cincinnati, over two periods : 1953-1956 and 1959-1963. In 1958-59 he made two good singles for Starday, “Why Did You Lie To Me” and Eddie Noack’s “Too Hot To Handle”. His only chart entry was “Drunk Again” (King 5413) in 1961 (# 25 country). Moore sang about drinking more than about any other subject, but he was never an alcoholic. Another booze song, “Out of Control”, was co-written with George Jones. Both men recorded their own version around January 1960, but Moore’s version was held in the can until March 1963, giving Jones the chance to score a # 25 country hit with it in 1960.
During the 1960s, Lattie shifted more toward straight country music, abandoning rock and roll and rockabilly. After leaving King for the second time in 1963, he recorded only sporadically : an album for Derby Town (1968) and a final single for WPL (1971). He continued to perform well into the 1970s, though. After his retirement from music, he returned to his birthplace of Scottsville and worked in law enforcement for a couple of years. Health problems began to develop in the 1980s. He underwent laser surgery for throat cancer in 1986 and recovered from a quadruple bypass operation in 1999. Lattie Moore died of natural causes on June 13, 2010, at the age of 85.
Obituary : http://www.theguardian.com/music/2010/jul/06/lattie-moore-obituary
Discography : http://countrydiscography.blogspot.nl/search/label/Moore%20Lattie
CD : I’m Not Broke But I’m Badly Bent : The Best of the King-Starday Recordings, 1953-63 (Westside WESF 109, UK). Released 2000. 29 tracks. Liner notes by Bill Millar.
Acknowledgements : Bill Millar, Bruce Eder, Tony Russell.
Dik, May 2016
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