The Rhythm Orchids / Buddy Knox / Jimmy Bowen

Gary:” This will be a revision of a previous post.  While in High School I did an oral composition on the Rhythm Orchids, Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen.  I won the competition but was not allowed to present it in the Auditorium because I needed Audio Aids and that would include Rock and Roll.

This was 1958, teachers, principals and the older generation, who had the authority were still not totally on board with the new music.  My Mom and Dad were just great, so personally, I did not have a problem.  

I will take a second look at Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, Don Lanier (lead guitar) and Dave Alldred drums (I did all of this from memory) and the new music called Rock and Roll, which today, is referred to as Rockabilly; sad.

    .
.
.
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Buddy (Wayne) Knox
& the Rhythm Orchids
.
   .
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Jimmy Bowen
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Videos:

Jimmy Bowen (Crossover) /
.
Buddy Knox / 1957 (Party Doll & Hula Love, Ed Sullivan and I was there)
.

Party Doll / 1957 or 58 / original line-up, Buddy Knox, Jimmy Bowen, Dave Alldred and Don Lanier (I did a high school oral composition on this group and won / Gary) / live and I think Ed Sullivan /

.

  All of this music was created in the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis New Mexico (Buddy Holly too).

.

Hula Love maybe 58

.

Much later in Life, 1988 Buddy Holly Tribute
.
1988 / Rock your little baby to sleep/ Prince Albert Saskatchewan with the Prairie Fire band /
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1988/ Hula Love / Same place /
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1957 / Devil Woman (the B side of Party Doll) /
 .
Buddy Left us in 1999.

Music:

Buddy Knox & the Rhythm Orchids

Jimmy Bowen & the Rhythm Orchids

Jimmy Bowen

Since the 1970s, Jimmy Bowen has been a powerful executive in the record industry; he’s worked for several labels, but has stayed with MCA since 1986, and is acknowledged as one of the most influential figures in Nashville.

He entered the business a long time before that, though, as a teenage rockabilly singer, landing a Top 20 hit in 1957 with “I’m Stickin’ With You.” The song was basic in the extreme, built around a thwacking bass riff, a singsong melody, and Bowen‘s own nervous, boyish vocals, suggesting that it may have been intended as nothing more than a demo.

That indeed may have been close to the truth, as it was first released as a B-side to a song that made number one, Buddy Knox‘s “Party Doll.”

Bowen and Knox‘s careers were bound together in an unusually close fashion that makes thumbnail sketches of their recording activities rather cumbersome and tangled. Knox (guitar, vocals) and Bowen(bass, vocals) met in the ’50s and became the front men of a rockabilly combo, the Orchids.

They were directed to Norman Petty‘s studio in Clovis, NM, by Roy Orbison. There the Orchids cut “Party Doll” (with Knox on vocals) and “I’m Stickin’ With You” (with Bowen on bass). The tracks, both co-written by Knox/Bowen, were issued on the small Triple D label, the top side billed to Buddy Knox & the Orchids, the other to Jimmy Bowen & the Orchids.

When the single was leased to Roulette for nationwide distribution, the company shrewdly divided the product into two separate singles. When both became hits, it found itself with two separate new stars, although nominally they were still part of the same group (now renamed, to further confuse matters, the Rhythm Orchids).

Bowen and Knox embarked on simultaneous solo careers for Roulette, although each continued to use the Rhythm Orchids as his backup band for quite a while. That accounts for the similar mild rockabilly-pop sound of each artist, but Knox was a far better singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist than Bowen for that matter, he was far more successful, landing a string of smaller follow-up hits to “Party Doll.”

Bowen never entered the Top 20 again, although he did quite a bit of recording for Roulette in the late ’50s. He found it hard to recapture the unforced bounce of “I’m Stickin’ With You,” and indeed his Roulette sides rate as some of the tamest rockabilly of the ’50s. 

Bowen was probably unsuited to be a front man to begin with, despite his teen-idol looks; his range was narrow (sometimes he sounds like a gawky Johnny Cash, and his delivery was stiff and unsure of itself. His material was fairly slight as well, and at the end of his stay with Roulette, he’d abandoned rock for misguided and soggy attempts at orchestrated pop.

Bowen would make some more records, but it was really more the beginning than the end when he moved into production.

In the mid-’60s he worked with Frank SinatraSammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin at Reprise; since then he’s had high posts at Capitol, MGM, Elektra/Asylum, and MCA, concentrating mostly on country music in recent times.

Buddy Knox

Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids formed one of the original rockabilly acts in rock-and-roll, had a career that paralleled that of Buddy Holly, and released a number one song in the Fifties.

Buddy was born Buddy Wayne Knox in 1933 in Happy, Texas. In 1948 he wrote a song that he called Party Doll. In 1955 while a student at West Texas State University, Buddy Knox formed a group called the Rhythm Orchids that included himself on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Bowen on bass, and Don Lanier on lead guitar; he later added Dave Alldred on drums.

As did many groups that recorded in West Texas in the Fifties, Buddy’s group eventually found its way to Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. It was the same studio where Buddy Holly and the Crickets started their recording career.

Norman Petty did not really know at the time how to record rock-and-roll drums, so he used a cardboard box instead of a drum kit.

In 1956 the group recorded Knox’s old composition of Party Doll as by Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, and at the same session recorded I’m Stickin’ With You as by Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids.

Knox formed his own label that he called Triple-D, which was named for KDDD Radio in Dumas, Texas. The two songs were issued as both sides of a 45 on the Triple-D label and began to gain in popularity as they received airplay.

They had a two-sided hit. The then-new Roulette label in New York City picked up both songs and released each in 1957 with a different B-side; the result was a million seller for each song. 

I’m Stickin’ With You rose to #14, while Party Doll went all the way to #1. Knox had discovered the style used in the song when teenaged drummer Don Mills had sat in on a date with the Rhythm Orchids, although it was Dave Alldred who played on the recording that had been made in Clovis. Alldred had worked with the Norman Petty Trio earlier in the Fifties, and would later be a member of Dicky Doo and the Don’ts.

In 1957 and 1958 Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids placed a total of eight songs on the charts that they recorded on the Roulette label, including Rock Your Little Baby To SleepHula Love [a top ten song], and Somebody Touched Me.

Buddy Knox appeared in the movie Jamboree along with some of the top rock-and-roll stars of the day in 1957. He promoted his songs on Alan Freed’s package tours. The group’s sound developed to where it included a number of session guitarists, or a guest artist such as Bobby Darin on piano.

Jimmy Bowen rarely played bass in the studio, but members of the Crickets were brought in on many sessions, including Buddy Holly himself on one song, All For You.

The last top 100 entry for Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids was I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself in 1959, a song that was banned on many radio stations.

Jimmy Bowen managed to put four songs in the top 100 before becoming a top record executive and producer on the West Coast. He worked for Chancellor and Reprise before moving to MCA Records in Nashville in the 70’s; MCA was renamed Universal Records in 1988 with Bowen as its president.

Don Lanier recorded on his own, without much success.

Buddy Knox moved into mainstream pop and put his own song, Lovey Dovey, in the top forty in the early 60’s and later moved on to country, where he had a minor hit with Gypsy Man [a.k.a. Gipsy Man] in 1968.

He moved to Canada and opened a nightclub in Vancouver called the Purple Steer in the early 70’s, and later toured. Buddy Knox contracted cancer and passed away on February 14, 1999.

During Buddy Holly’s lifetime, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids equalled his success in the pop music field.

–o–

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3 responses to “The Rhythm Orchids / Buddy Knox / Jimmy Bowen

  1. Pingback: Rhythm Orchids | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  2. Buddy Knox was living across the water from Seattle Area when he passed away.He had been living there for many years.He was going to sing at a Seattle venue when he passed away.I heard him being interviewed one night a few weeks before he died.

  3. Pingback: Dino, Desi & Billy | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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