Sunday, January 27, 2013
Big "T" Tyler - King Kong/Sadie Green
In 1999, while writing the liner notes for the "Backbeat" CD by Earl Palmer, Stuart Colman still believed that it was good old Ernie Freeman hammering out the keys, but in a later article in Now Dig This (August 2007) he gave piano credit to Ray Johnson, after having spoken to the man himself.
The session was produced by Earl Palmer, who had migrated from New Orleans to Los Angeles just a few months earlier, in February 1957. The reason for this move was revealed in 1999 in Palmer's (auto)biography : he'd got himself into a mess after falling in love with a young white woman. This was the South, remember. Just as he was dreading what might happen next, out of the blue Aladdin Records offered him an A&R position out in California. So Earl packed his bags, leaving a wife and four children behind, and headed West. Palmer was quick to let Aladdin boss Eddie Mesner know that he wasn't just a drummer but a music school graduate who could compose, arrange, and supervise a record session.
Aladdin released "King Kong"/"Sadie Green" on June 11, 1957 (Aladdin 3384). Though it wasn't a hit in the US, the record was also released in the UK, on Vogue V 9079, in August. In that month, a snippet in the trade journal Cash Box reported : "Big T Tyler, new artist on the Aladdin label, broke it up at Rocky's in Burbank over the weekend with his new release 'Sadie Green' ". Norman Malkin's belief that Tyler was a potential rival to Little Richard turned out to be unjustified and Tyler was soon dropped. Rob Finnis writes that he later recorded two singles as Chris Tyler for Bobby Mizzell's Kim label (1960). I suspect that Finnis never heard these Kim recordings (both A-sides covers of Ruth Brown songs), as they are clearly by a white artist and do not sound like Big T at all. You can judge this for yourself at http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/t/tyle0700.htm It seems safe to say that "King Kong" is Tyler's solitary release. The song was revived by Mike Sanchez in 2003 on his CD "Women And Cadillacs" and by the US group Rocky Velvet in 2007 on their album "It Came From Cropseyville". Both versions are exciting.
Text from rockabilly.nl and ripped from a repro 45.