Peck Touchton - Sarg # 146 - July 1956
My Baby Ain't Around / I'm Just A Standby .
It would be accurate to suggest that a true rockabilly fan's lips would appear to be permanently in a slightly curled state, if only to symbolize the combination of arrogance, mayhem, anarchy, and innocence that make this genre of music so enjoyable. Is this too much for a curled lip to symbolize? Any further curling would only be the result of mentioning certain artists, names that are not only laced with obscurity but just plain sound cool. Peck Touchton is such a name, by all accounts the real name of a performer who recorded a series of singles for the Sarg label in the '50s. This enterprise was headed by Texas producer Charlie Fitch, who began releasing records in 1954. Over the next two decades, some 150 singles were released by Fitch, and even if the A&R choices had been made at random the catalog would have still represented extensive documentation of the South Texas scene. Willie Nelson and Doug Sahm, Texas legends both, made their earliest sides for Sarg.
The Sarg Records StoryTouchton fronted an outfit called Peck Touchton & the Sunset Wranglers, and recorded titles such as the quixotic "You've Changed Your Tune," the revealing "Then I Found You," and a literal peck of sob stories, including "Lonely World," "My Baby Ain't Around," and "I'm a Standby." His "Walk 'Em Off Blues" was one of the most frequently touched-on Touchton tracks on country and rockabilly specialty radio shows. Touchton appears on several different compilations, but listeners also have the option of investing in the multi-CD set entitled The Sarg Records Story and acquiring every track the label ever released.
By Eugene Chadbourne
Sarg Records # 104 - April 1954
I Got Fooled / Korean Love Song
During his short life, Merritt was at one time disc-jockey at day, and singer in clubs at night, a common practice in the ’40s and ’50s. Few remember his fast-talking in San Antonio KONO or KMAC in the early ’60s. Even one of his closest friends told he was « possibly the loneliest man » he’d ever known. Born Carol Merritt in 1930, he changed later for a more ‘masculine’ name; he learned how to play piano and guitar, but was passionate for singing and song-writing. By 1949 he formed his first band, the Bandera Ranch Hands and toured the area. After a stint in Korea, he was back with « Korean Love Song » – both Capitol and Mercury rejected the song, so Charlie Fitch began his label with the tune, in late December 1953. Merritt recorded 3 other songs, later published in April 1954 (700 78s and 100 red wax 45s), but, by the the end of the year, Fitch had only sold 80.
Neal Merritt recorded once more for Sarg in 1955, alas, again without more success, and by the end of the year Fitch resolved his contract. He would then go to Starday (# 237, 260 and 281), and much, much later, in 1965, had a #1 in the hands of Little Jimmy Dickens with « May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose ». A Capitol contract followed, which went nowhere, and Merritt was back to Texas, less and less disc-jockeying, more and more drinking. He was found dead (cirrhosis and heart failure) in a Gatesville, Texas motel, in April 1975.
Larry Nolen with The Bandits .
Sarg Record # 115 - 1954.
Hillbilly Love Affair / No Wedding Bells For Me.
Larry Nolen was born in Mineola in Northeast Texas in 1933 and moved to San Antonio as a child. In 1954 he started his own band Larry Nolen & The Bandits and released “I Need You Now” and “Hillbilly Love Affair” on Sarg Records. Larry has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for “King of the Ducktail Cats”.
Herby Shozel & the Longhorn Playboys .
Sarg Record # 116 - 1955
You're Gonna Pay / I Can't Believe It's True.
Charles Fitch saw Herby and The Longhorn Playboys playing at the Barn, a local club and offered them a contract. They would record at ACA in Houston in March 1954. « I suppose » was a local hit. They had a second session backing Neal Merritt, then in August cut four original songs, the best being « You’re Gonna Pay », released a year later. Neither of them sold enough though, and after misgivings with Fitch, they parted. The band never recorded again.
Larry Nolen & The Bandits .
Sarg Record # 110 - 1954.
I Need You Now / The Bandit.
LARRY NOLEN and the Bandits
Larry Nolen was born in Mineola in Northeast Texas in 1933 and moved to San Antonio as a child. He began his professional music career as a rhythm guitarist in 1946,at the age of 13, when he joined The Mountain Rhythm Band, a family band that featured Boy and Gene who later achieved success as The Jacoby Brothers. Smiley Whitley, leader of one of the most famous western swing bands in Texas, recognized a star on the rise and invited Larry to play with his band, Smiley Whitley and the Texans. They performed most Saturday nights at Bandera’s famous Cabaret Dancehall and also hosted a radio show at San Antonio’s KONO / KMAC radio station five days a week. In 1954, Nolen left the Texans, started his own band Larry Nolen & The Bandits and released « I Need You Now » and « Hillbilly Love Affair » on Sarg Records. Nolen went on to share the stage with Elvis Presley, Porter Wagoner, Spade Cooley, Hank Thompson, Doug Sahm, Marty Robbins, Johnny Paycheck, Roger Miller and George Jones, frequently appearing on The Louisiana Hayride and more than fifty Grand Ole Opry Road Shows. Larry has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for « King of the Ducktail Cats » (Starday 668), the Texas Western Swing Music Hall of Fame with the Texas Tophands, and the Bandera Music Hall of Fame as a Living Legend. A few of his hit records include « I Need You Now« , « Please Talk To My Heart« , « The Bandit« , « Hillbilly Love Affair » and « Ramblin’ Rose » which was recorded by Nat King Cole. Larry currently lives on a ranch near Pipe Creek, Texas with his wife, Dixie. He owns and operates Bandit Records, his own private recording studio on the ranch. Larry continues to perform live at venues and events throughout Texas and has recently recorded his latest CD, « Hangovers Sure Hang On
Herby Shozel & The Longhorn Playboys.
Sarg Record # 103 - 1954
You Ain't Foolin' Me / I suppose .
After two first records (Neal Merritt) not selling, Fitch was hungry for a success. He found it with Herby Shozel’s « I Suppose/You Ain’t Foolin’ Me » Born Herby Schoelzel in Fentress, Texas, in 1928, he was immersed in music. His family moved in San Antonio in 1941, and by 1945, he had his own band and a local radio show. Unfortunately Shozel was drafted from October 1950 for two long years. The band had lead guitar, piano and bass, along with an ex-Bill Mack fiddler. The Longhorn Playboys’ sound was far more Country than their contemporaries of the area: it was achingly pure sound, strongly influenced by Hank Williams. Shozel’s voice could be lithe on love ballads yet sly and sarcastic on tell-offs.
Charles Fitch saw them playing at the Barn, a local club and offered them a contract. They would record at ACA in Houston in March 1954. « I suppose » was a local hit. They had a second session backing Neal Merritt, then in August cut four original songs, the best being « You’re Gonna Pay », released a year later. Neither of them sold enough though, and after misgivings with Fitch, they parted. The band never recorded again.