Born Orin Glenn Troutman, 24 October 1934, Joplin, Missouri
Glen Glenn was one of the many great unknown artists of the 1950s. After a hitless US career he had given up music, but returned to performing after being discovered by European rockabilly fans in the 1970s.
Glenn Troutman was 13 when his family moved from Missouri to San Dimas, some 30 miles east of Los Angeles. Three years later he bought his first guitar, practicing all the country songs he heard on the radio. He found a kindred spirit in Gary Lambert, a fellow high school student who had mastered the Merle Travis picking style on his guitar and was looking for someone to play with. Almost every Sunday they attended the Squeakin’ Deacon Show at the Riverside Rancho in L.A. The first time Glenn and Gary entered the contest, they won the prize (a wrist watch), to their own amazement. By early 1954, they were appearing regularly as “The Missouri Mountain Boys” (though Gary was born and raised in California), on local venues such as the Country Barn Dance in Baldwin Park, a TV show. Glenn and Gary started recording demos in January 1955, at KXLA Radio Studio in Pasadena. At first these were strictly country recordings, but after seeing (and meeting) Elvis Presley, Glenn was converted to the rockabilly style. At this time he performed under the name Glen Trout.
In the spring of 1956, Glenn toured the East Coast and the Midwest with his cousin Porter Wagoner. Back in California, Glenn did his first professional recording session, for which he paid himself. Although the material was excellent, he didn’t succeeed in getting a recording contract with any of the labels he played the demos for. Then he was approached by Fred Maddox of the Maddox Brothers and Rose. That group was having internal problems ; Rose and Cal Maddox had quit the band. Glenn replaced Cal as rhythm guitarist and vocalist in the group, now billed as The Maddox Brothers and Retta. He spent most of 1957 touring with the band and also appeared on their TV show, Cal’s Corral (not named after Cal Maddox, but after car dealer Cal Worthington). Some live recordings from this show were issued on the Sunjay label in 1987 and feature the classic rock n roll line-up of Glenn’s band, including Gary Lambert back on lead guitar, Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith on loan from Eddie Cochran’s band and Joe O’Dell on drums.
It is mostly this line-up, augmented with Wynn Stewart on rhythm guitar, that can be heard on Glen’s three ERA singles. He was contracted by ERA after shopping around two acetates, “One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette” and “Kathaleen” that he had cut in late 1957. It was at this stage that he was rechristened Glen Glenn. His first session for ERA took place on January 8, 1958 and resulted in the single “Everybody’s Movin’” / “I’m Glad My Baby’s Gone”, both Glenn’s own songs. Released in early February, “Everybody’s Movin’” did well and could have been a hit, but then Glen and Gary had to report for active duty in the Army. As a result, they were unavailable for promotion of the record. After eight weeks of basic training, Glen and Gary received a two-week leave, during which they recorded more legendary rockabilly tracks. “Laurie Ann”/ “One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette” was the second ERA single and also had hit potential, but by the time it came out in June 1958, Glen and Gary were both stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii and couldn’t do much to help their careers. ERA continued to believe in Glen and issued a third single in early 1959, “Would Ya”/“Blue Jeans And A Boy’s Shirt”, again a great rockabilly two-sider, but by this time the market for rockabilly had become very small indeed. In 1959, while still in the Army, Glen was moved to the Doré label, ERA’s sister label. Doré boss Lou Bedell teamed him up with Ernie Freeman’s band (including Plas Johnson on sax and Earl Palmer on drums) for two songs in the poppy rock style that was popular at the time (“Goofin’ Around”/ “Suzie Green From Abilene”), but which didn’t suit Gary’s style. The record sank without a trace.
When Glenn returned to civilian life in 1960, the music scene had changed enormously. He started working for General Dynamics in 1960, got married in 1961 and performed only occasionally, still with Gary Lambert. A second Doré single was issued in 1964 (credited to Glen Trout), but didn’t stand a chance amidst the violence of Beatlemania. By 1965 Glenn had lost interest in the music business.
This could have been the end of the story, but then came the European rockabilly revival of the 1970s. None of his records had been released in Europe, so he was a complete unknown there, until the release (in 1977) of the UK LP “Hollywood Rock ’n’ Roll” on Chiswick, which included six tracks by Glen Glenn. This was such a success that it was soon followed by an album of unissued and live recordings and a newly recorded LP (“Everybody’s Movin’ Again”), both on Ace. Glenn made his first appearance in Europe in 1987 and has since played many rockabilly festivals in the US and abroad.
More info : http://www.rockabillyhall.com/GlenGlenn.html
Discography / sessionography (by Tapio Väisänen) :
Acknowledgements : Deke Dickerson, Craig Morrison, Tapio Väisänen.
Dik, May 2015
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