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There was a time when Luke Mc Daniel was mostly known for having posed with Elvis Presley on a photograph which, incidentally, also featured another superb Rockabilly singer, Joe Clay. However, thanks to the efforts of excellent music researchers over the past twenty years, the world has been able to appreciate Luke's talent. Let me take you back to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1952 for a reevaluation of his early recording years.


Luke & his second single. In the segregated society of Mississippi, Mrs. Lillian Mc Murry, almost singlehandedly, helped make things change when she set up her - now much acclaimed - Trumpet label in 1950. Indeed, just about all of the artists and groups she signed in '50 and '51 were black. Beginning with Gospel acts such as The Southern Sons, she soon introduced to the world some of the all-time great Bluesmen : Aleck Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James and Willie Love for starters. Their work on the tiny Jackson-based label is timeless and has been masterfully anthologized by Marc Ryan on his own Acoustic Archives imprint in the early '90s. Marc's book, 'Trumpet Records - An Illustrated History With Discography' (Big Nickel Publications, Milford, New Hampshire - 1992) is required reading for anybody with an interest in early Delta Blues.
Thanks to Marc's research, it transpires that, as early as 1950, there was also a Hillbilly band on Trumpet : accordionist Kay Kellum & His Dixie Ramblers. They had two releases in a row, predating those of Jimmy Swan by more than one year.

Even more interesting was a '78 by guitarist Roy Harris, who had played on Kellum's sessions ; the pairing of 'Olds 88' with 'Rockin' Boogie' (Trumpet 136, by Texas Jack & Rocky Jones), both from a March 1951 studio date with black sax player, Duke Huddleston, is rumored to be in the same vein as Jackie Brenston's famous proto-rocker, 'Rocket 88' (Chess 1458). Apart from The Hodges Brothers, who later cut a rare rockin' single on Mississippi (#574, in the Starday 'Custom Series'), the next Hillbilly singer on Mc Murry's label was to be Jimmy Swan, who would prove to be the most successful (and, in later years, the least politically correct !) as well. His career has been well documented and Bear Family put out a definitive CD on him a few years back. 'Juke Joint Mama' (Trumpet 176) and 'Triflin' On Me' (Trumpet 177) were two very good honky-tonkers cut at his first session in 1952. It was Swan who recommended a certain Luke Mc Daniel to Lillian Mc Murry.

Luke Jefferson Mc Daniel was born on a farm near Laurel (Mississippi) on February 3, 1927. According to a biography which appeared in an old issue of 'Country & Western Jamboree', we learn that Luke sandwiched in the chores of the farm with going to school. During his high school days at Laurel, Luke became entranced by the featured mandolin accompaniment of the Bailes Brothers records. A very influential outfit specializing in sacred material, the Baileses were West Virginia natives and their band, The West Virginia Home Folks, once included Clyde Baum and Ernest Ferguson, both mandolinists. Among their better known songs, we find their Columbia recording of 'Dust On The Bible' which was later cut by The Blue Sky Boys (Bill & Earl Bolick) on RCA Victor (#48-0036). The desire to play the mandolin became so strong that Luke gave his only suit of clothes and seven more bucks for his first instrument. He soon was playing local benefits and church socials. Mc Daniel then switched to composing, singing and playing the guitar. One day, Curly Fox & Texas Ruby came to Laurel as part of the Jamup & Honey Show ; that's when Luke decided to give up his daily job at the cotton mill and joined the troupe as handy man : it didn't last very long, though.

To Be Continued Soon.................................
PAUL VIDAL * Privas, France * August 2002

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