If you’re old enough to have been listening to the radio in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, you probably heard songs like Dodie Stevens’ “(Tan Shoes and) Pink Shoelaces” and Carl Dobkins Jr.’s “My Heart is an Open Book” enough times to wonder about the performers behind them. Nearly everyone else has heard Dale Hawkins’ “Susie Q,” but usually the version by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Sleepy LaBeef, who was still touring until a few years ago, had a radio hit with Big Joe Turner’s “Honey Hush,” but is still largely unknown outside of the rockabilly world.
For the past 15 years, Sheree Homer has immersed herself in rockabilly and its hybrids. She edited a rockabilly magazine and has already written one book on rockabilly artists. Here, she has produced a fascinating collection of stories about singers in these and a few other genres, some of who achieved some degree of renown but most largely overlooked by the music press.
Homer offers life histories, as well as insights into their songwriting processes. She has also explored the scene from the inside, singing and recording songs at Sun Studio with Carl Perkins’ son and original drummer after receiving an unexpected financial windfall. Both her experience and passion are evident in this excellent book.
– Kay Cordtz