Jimmy Edwards!

We, here at the Blog, look for and find some pretty rare recordings and this is one of them.  This is a singer that worked in Flint Michigan at General Motors, Buick Division in 1957.  He and a local disc jockey recorded a song with some local musicians, had 500 records pressed, failed to give it a Release Number.  It was re-recorded in Nashville with Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer  and others and made it to #78 on Billboard in 1958.  Here is the complete story of —–

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Jimmy Edwards

Born James Wiley Bullington, 9 February 1925, Senath, Missouri; Died 31 July 2012, Florida

1.  Love Bug Crawl/ Mercury 71209/ October 1957 (charted January 1958)/  #78

The original “Wednesday Recording” is a collector’s item now, but the song generally is very hard to find.

Born Jim Bullington in Senath, Missouri, Jimmy Edwards was raised on a farm in nearby Cardwell. He sang country music at annual jamborees in Columbus and reportedly took a course in musical theory at Arkansas State College.

He then was drafted into the Combat Engineers. On discharge, he settled in Flint, Michigan, where he worked for General Motors’ Buick division. On the Buick assembly line he met Bill Lamb, a deejay on Flint’s WKMF (later WBBC) and record shop owner who also had a recording studio.

Bullington and his co-writer, Jack Foshee, approached Lamb with two songs they had written, “Love Bug Crawl” and “The Way To My Heart” and these were recorded with some local guys in Flint, in an unadulterated rockabilly style. Together, the three men set up their own record label, Wednesday Records, but failed to give the single an issue number. Five hundred copies were pressed (by RCA’s custom pressing division) for local consumption, credited to Jim Bullington. The record aroused the interest of Jim Minor and Bob Cloud, who owned Mayflower Music in Flint and signed Bullington to their publishing company.

Their next step was to have “Love Bug Crawl” re-recorded in Nashville (with Chet Atkins, Floyd Cramer and Buddy Harman, among others), this time coupled with “Honey Lovin’“, also written by Bullington. The masters were sold to Mercury in a deal which also got Bullington a new artist name, Jimmy Edwards. The two versions of “Love Bug Crawl” are very similar, although the re-recording has a much improved guitar break. The Wednesday single now fetches prices of $400 and up.

Released in October 1957, the Mercury version charted in January 1958, partly due to Shelby Singleton’s plugging the disc on his first assignment as Mercury’s southern promotion man. At that time, Edwards was not driving a truck, as has been reported, but was working at Buick. Mercury whisked him out onto the road and Jimmy joined Irvin Feld’s Greatest Teenage Recording Stars tour, which starred Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, Eddie Cochran, Danny and the Juniors and many others.

Edwards also appeared on Dick Clark’s ‘American Bandstand’ and on the Louisiana Hayride. “Love Bug Crawl” was also released in the UK where it attracted cover versions by Marty Wilde and Wee Willie Harris.

Edwards’ next two releases, “My Honey“/”Golden Ruby Blue” (Mercury 71272) and “Do That Again“/”Wedding Band” (Mercury 71348), both from 1958, were enjoyable but failed to make waves.

Working on Edwards’ sessions, Chet Atkins had come to believe that the singer might have another hit in him and signed him to RCA when his one-year term with Mercury was up.

For the first RCA single, Atkins secured a song by Otis Blackwell, “Your Love Is A Good Love” (RCA 47-7597). The next RCA session (January 1960) was entrusted to Jack Clement and resulted in the single “Live And Let Live“/ “Rosie Lee“. The third tune from this session, unreleased at the time, was Cliff Thomas’ “Sorry I Lied“, a song that Clement had produced at Sun (or Phillips International, to be exact).

Edwards’ version stays very close to the original, not least due to the fact that the same pianist was employed, Cliff’s brother Ed Thomas, who also wrote the song.

RCA Victor gave Jimmy one last shot in June 1960, which again produced one single (“Silver Slippers“/ “What Do You Want From Me“) and one unreleased track (“Recipe Of Love” – now on the Bear Family CD).

Apparently, “Silver Slippers” sold well in some areas, but not enough for RCA to extend Edwards’ contract. Jimmy would not record again and signed back on at Buick.

In 1973, he took his last shot in the music business when he pitched a song to Jack Clement, then producing Charley Pride. That song, “Comin’ Down With Love“, headlined Pride’s #1 country album “Amazing Love“.

Edwards retired from the music business and lived in New Port Richey on Florida’s Gulf Coast until his passing on July 31, 2012.

 

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4 responses to “Jimmy Edwards!

  1. Hey Russ ! I remember it well. I think I pulled it off about a year ago on a gig with Sam and Mike. I do all kinds of those early rockers, like ‘Endless Sleep’ and ‘I’ve Had It’ as well as ‘La Do Da Da’ by Dale Hawkins. I think I still have the 45 of the Mercury Jimmy Edwards tune. I have many 45’s of promos and one hit Canadian wionders like ‘Summer Romance’ by Michaelangelo and ‘So Young’ by Clyde Stacy. Keep up the good work. Cheers……Ron.

  2. “Love Bug Crawl” really gets to me – takes me right back to those blazing days of rock n roll when you had to be there to appreciate the edge these songs had. Nothing quite like a bit of reverb on the singer’s voice, done just the right way…. like “Endless Sleep”. I need a Ron Russell fix.

  3. Just so you would know, Jimmy Edwards passed away about a year ago in New Port Richie FL. I played on the Wednesday recording with Jimmy and also was with him when he re-recorded in Nashville. Jim & I was very close friends and still got to visit often when we would go to Florida. If I can be of any help on much of the info. on him please contact me. Ron

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