MAYLON HUMPHRIES (By Tapio Vaisanen)
Born Maylon Dewitt Humphries, 18 March 1935, Kelly, Louisiana
Maylon Humphries was born in Kelly, Louisiana, 68 years ago. His father was a barber of English and Scots-Irish descent. Humphries attended high school in Pineville and Alexandria and grew up surrounded by the same influences as Dale Hawkins which accounts, in part, for the similarity in their music.
At 17 Humphries began listening to C&W artists on the Louisiana Hayride and even pitched a song to Hoot Rains and Curley Herndon, the Hoot and Curley who accompanied Slim Whitman and recorded for Imperial and Starday. At 18, the family moved to Shreveport. Humphries was a close friend of James Burton and attended Dale Hawkins's Susie-Q session at radio KWKH in 1956. He and Gene Scudder, a pal from Baton Rouge, joined in on the handclapping.
In 1957, Humphries cut a demo of "Worried About You Baby" at radio KRMD in Shreveport with his band The Tri-Seniors. Roy Gaines had recorded the song for Groove in 1956, but Humphries's version was inspired by Arthur Crudup's original or perhaps by Howlin' Wolf's 1952 version. James Burton played black-derived electric lead guitar and Coach Floyd was on bass, By the way, Coach Floyd was in the car with Johnny Horton when Johnny died, here's a good and interesting page of Coach Floyd: http://www.amarillobay.org/contents/dees-diane/coaching-zone-body.htm
Humphries's dad sent the tape to Leonard Chess who contacted Humphries at college in Forth Worth and told him that he was very interested and that Maylon should not send the tape to anyone else. Chess also insisted that Humphries re-cut the tune under the supervision of Stan Lewis who handled all his business in Louisiana.
"Worried About You Baby" was cut at least five times. One take was issued on the bootleg album "Rarin' Rockabillies" (Rarin' LP 666) and reissued on "Rarin' Rockabilly" (Rarin' LP 666A). Maylon shouts "Play it boy!" before the first guitar break. On an earlier version Maylon shouts "Play them blues boy" and this version was first attributed to Dale Hawkins and it was issued in 1976 on DALE HAWKINS (CHESS LP ACRR 703) which was compiled by Cub Koda. After that it has been reissued on several Dale Hawkins CDs and LPs.
At KWKH on Sunday afternoon in 1957, Maylon Humphries, James Burton and James Kirkland (bass) and Ronnie Lewis (drums) knocked out three takes of "Worried About You Baby" as well as unusual cowbell-driven "Weep No More". Kirkland, who left to attented an evening gig, was replaced by Tommy Mandena, the bass-player on Dale's "Susie-Q". (Note: Dale insists that the bass player on "Susie-Q" was James "Sonny" Trammell, but Tommy Mandina is listed in session files with two other names, James E. Martin and Edward Lee Copland).
Humphries, Burton, Mandena and Lewis worked on an R&B styled version of Humphries's tune "Blue Day". Humphries is pretty sure that Dale Hawkins was at the session: "I didn't pal around with Dale a lot, but he would come over to Gene Scudder's grandmother's house and everyone was pulling for everyone else. He didn't play on "Worried About You Baby" that's for sure. But I kinda remember him being there and what he probably did the handclapping on "Weep No More" just as we'd done the handclapping on "Susie-Q".
"Weep No More" was reissued on Norton's great Dale Hawkins compilation "Daredevil", Dale writes on the liner notes: "what that was, see I was out on the road alone and the guys in my band are backin' up Maylon Humphries. I didn't have much to say in it. They were tryin' to come up with another "Susie Q". Tryin' all day long, ha ha ha!".
Leonard Chess told Stan Lewis that he wanted another cut of "Worried About You Baby" with Burton repeating the faster solos he'd played on the original demo. So, Humphries, Burton, Coach Floyd and Ronnie Lewis went back to the studio and re-cut "Worried About You Baby" one more time.
In the event, Leonard Chess decided he didn't need another Dale Hawkins and Humphries's shining moment was left to molder in its tapebox until 1976 when someone at All Platinum Record Group stuck it on a Dale Hawkins album, a blunder which MCA has since repeated.
Humphries followed James Burton and Bob Luman to Califormia in late 1958. He recorded a pop ballad version of "Blue Day" with Tommy Sands's/Hal Goodson's band, the Raiders. "Blue Day"/"You Said" was released on Mercury 71395x45 and it hasn't been reissued. The latter was written by Nik Venet and Diane Lampert. Here's a link to RCS site, where you can see scanned labels of Maylon's one and only 50's release: http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/pics/02/2153.jpg
Following to the death of his younger brother, Maylon returned to Shreveport and left the music business altogether. In 1960, he married Betty Jo Abbott; Louise, Betty's sister, married James Burton.
Stan Lewis tempted Humphries back to the studio for a single on Paula in 1966. "Gee, I Sure Do Miss You"/"Never, Never" (Paula 235) was issued as by Maylon D. Witt. For the past forty odd years he has worked in the insurance and oil and gas industries. Today, he and Betty Jo run a real estate business.
Liner notes of "Rarin Rockabilly" LP suggest that Maylon recorded also for Groove, but I haven't found any evidence of that. None of the Chess sessions are listed in Ruppli's "The Chess Labels".
BMI lists following titles that were written by Maylon Humphries, can anyone recognize the original artists?
1. BLUE DAY 128096 (Annie Franks Humphries-Maylon Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
2. CRY BABY CRY 261281 (Maylon D. Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
3. I'LL RETURN 642531 (Maylon D. Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
4. I WANT ALL OF YOUR LOVE 4759522 (Maylon D. Humphries - Deborah L. Laufer - Jan Vinson) Songs of Gladstone, Songs of Glass Slipper Music, Star Drop Music
5. LONESOME 895036 (Maylon D. Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
6. NEVER NEVER 1056635 (Maylon D. Humphries - Sharon Sheeley), HEADS UP MUSIC PUBLISHING COMP.
7. ONE LONELY NIGHT 1121381 (Maylon D. Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
8. PRETENDING I'M HAPPY 1201267 (Dewitt C. humphries - Maylon D. Humphries), HUMPHRIES AND SON MUSIC
Recommended listening: Dale Hawkins: DAREDEVIL (Norton ED-256) - contains "Weep No More" by Maylon Humphries
That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 10 (Chess Records) (Bear Family CD 16123) - contains two takes of "Worried About You Baby" and most of the above story plus superb photos.
Maylon's RCS page: http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/h/hump2000.htm
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