Town Hall Party!

Gary: “Previously I did a post on all the great studio musicians: Session Musicians / A-Team / Funk Brothers / Wrecking Crew / Swampers and I also looked at my live TV Music Show:  Shindig! Best Live Musical TV Program Ever! But tonight I am going way back to black and white television in it’s infancy and I will talk about a show that I never did see, so please just humour me, I do this sometimes. 

Artists included in this post:

It was 1951, the place was Compton California and the show would have variations on names but the main one for me was “Town Hall Party”.  This was a pure Country and Western show (of which I know very little) and it lasted until 1960. 

It started as a Radio Show, but parts of it in the mid to late 50’s where filmed for the armed services in half hour segments. 

OK, so here is where I’m going with this.  Some of the greatest “Rock and Roll” stars appeared on the show and where filmed.  The old kinescope recordings are not fantastic, but they are pure and rare.  These old films or kinescope recordings are really at the beginning of the Rock and Roll Journey.

Town Hall Party-1950’s
Tex Ritter, Jimmy Pruitt, Freddie Hart, Billy Hill, Merle Travis, Shirley Adams, Mary Lou, Fiddilin’ Kate, Buddy Dooley, Marilyn Tuttle, Bobby Charles, Texas Tiny, Wesley Tuttle, Laurie Collins, Ray Kline, Rosalee Maphis, Rose Lee Maphis, Larry Collins, Quincy Snodgrass, Joe Maphis, Skeets MacDonald, Jay Stewart, Johnny Bond, Marian Hall, PeeWee Adams, Mary Jane Johnson, Les “Carrot Top” Anderson, Jenks (Tex ) Carman

.

Town Hall Party was the most popular country and western variety music show in Southern California during the 1950’s.

Broadcast from a theater in the Compton suburb of Los Angeles that was converted to look like a barn, it began in 1951 as a radio barn dance on KFI radio in Compton, becoming a television show in 1953, when KFI started feeding the one-hour show to the NBC Network.

Later, Armed Forces Television filmed it for overseas showing. Thirty-nine half-hour versions were filmed by Screen Gems for syndication showings around the world and these continued for several years after the show ended in 1961.

Many country stars whose careers blossomed in the 1960’s were featured on the show, such as Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell, and Johnny Cash. Later episodes of the show also featured such rock n’ roll luminaries as Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.

Performers

  • PeeWee Adams
  • Dick D’Agostin
  • Les “Carrot-Top” Anderson
  • Johnny Bond
  • Martha Carson
  • Tex Jenks Carman
  • Johnny Cash
  • Jim Reeves
  • Bobby Charles
  • Patsy Cline
  • Eddie Cochran
  • Alvis Coker
  • Shirley Collie
  • The Collins Kids
  • Cliff Crofford
  • Ted Daffan
  • Eddie Dean
  • Tommy Duncan
  • Fiddlin’ Kate
  • Lefty Frizzell
  • Marian Hall
  • Freddie Hart
  • Bobby Helms
  • Cousin Herb Henson
  • Dick Dale
  • Billy Hill
  • Wanda Jackson
  • Myrna Jay
  • Mary Jane Johnson
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Skeets McDonald
  • Joe Maphis
  • Rose Lee Maphis
  • Billy Mize
  • Mary Lou Nell
  • Carl Perkins
  • Wayne Raney
  • Rangers Quartet
  • Tex Ritter
  • Marty Robbins
  • Tommy Sands
  • Bonnie Sloan
  • Tom Tall
  • Gordon Terry
  • Merle Travis
  • Marilyn Tuttle
  • Wesley Tuttle
  • Gene Vincent (Oct. 58, July 59, Nov. 59)
  • Slim Willet
  • Mac Wiseman
  • Dortha Wright

I have searched long and hard for these, so I hope you enjoy them.  These are extremely rare videos of the early Rock and Rollers live on “Town Party”.   Yes, I am aware that the sound and visual aspects are not up to today’s digital standards, but please remember that some of them are 55 years old.

Carl Perkins:  
.
Matchbox/ 1956 /
.
Blue Suede Shoes /
.
True Love / 1957 /
.
See also our post on Carl Perkins

Bob Luman, long before “Let’s think about Living”

Shake Rattle and Roll / 1958 / (no big speakers, just honest music)
.
Reddy Teddy / 1958 / (Wild)   That’s what Rock and Roll was all about.
.
See also our post on Bob Luman

Johnny Cash: 
 
I walk the Line / 1957 /
.
Get Rhythm / 1958 /
.
Folsom Prison Blues / 1959 /
.
See also our post on Johnny Cash

Gene Vincent: 
.
Roll Over Beathoven / 1959 /
.
Dance to the Bop / 1958 /
.
Rip it Up / 1958 /
.
Be-Bop-A-Lula / 1958 /
.
See also our post on Gene Vincent

Wanda Jackson: 
 
Hard Headed Women / 1958 /
.
Rock Your Baby/ 1958 /
.
See also our post on Wanda Jackson

The Collins Kids: 

 
High School Confidential / 1958 /
.
That’ll Be the Day/ 1957 /
.
Hot Rod / 1958 /
.
See also our post on The Collins Kids

Eddie Cochran: 

 
C’mon Everybody / 1959 /
.
Summertime Blues / 1958 /
.
School Day / 1959 /
.
Don’t Blame in on Me / February 7th / 59 / This was only four days after we lost /Buddy / Ritchie & JP Richardson /
.
See also our post on Eddie Cochran

Patsy Cline: 

 
Walking After Midnight /
.
.
See also our post on Patsy Cline

Bobby Helms   Long before Jingle Bell Rock

.
Long Gone Daddy / 1957 / Joe Maphis on guitar /

The Early Guitar Pickers / Joe Maphis / Larry Collins / Merle Travis

Wildwood Flower /
Larry Collins & Joe Maphis / Ramrod /
–o–
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8 responses to “Town Hall Party!

  1. Town Hall Party are great for me. I have many of the DVD’s from all this great Shows. love it.

  2. Thanks for this great post! Wanda Jackson…Patsy Cline, so full of energy
    and conviction. Fantastic!

  3. Gary:

    These videos sure brought back some memories from the ’50s when as a kid I lived in Shannon Park NS, as a Navy brat, and we had our weekly Friday night Teen Town dances. Who can forget the good old Rock’n Roll.

  4. In 1960 I was on the pre-show of Town Hall Party. Name was Patti Paul. I was there the night Barbara Mandrell made her debut and Johnny Cash made an appearance following an automobile accident (I fainted at his feet during his skit)… have searched high and low for videos of these times and have come up empty. If you could help would appreciate. Bonnie Sloan, Jeannie Sterling, Shirley Collie were the other ladies who sang regular at that time. Biff Collie was one of the Emcee’s. Thank you.
    Patti Redding aka Patti Paul

  5. I am the daughter of Pee Wee Adams. I remember so much growing up and watching my dad play drums. I’m in the process of getting all his archives together and putting in the Johnny Cash Museum. If there is anyone that has movies or pictures I would be interested in them. Thanks Denise

  6. Great post on Town Hall Jamboree. I spent a year playing with Molly Bee, one of the featured performers on a similar program, Hometown Jamboree, which originated in Pasadena in the 1950s. It was hosted by Cliffie Stone and featured a number of singers and players who would later become famous. The best-known one was Tennessee Ernie Ford. Others included Johnny Horton, Tommy Sands (with whom we did a show at Molly`s club in Oceanside, CA), Ferlin Husky, as well as instrumentalists, Joe Maphis, Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, among others.

    I`d love to see some clips of HTJ.

    Thanks, Bill Prosser

    • Hi Bill. My name is Denise and my dad was Pee Wee Adams. He played back up drums with all those artistis. Would you happen to know more about this show and share it with me. I’m working on his life story and gathering up all the information I can find. Thank You Denise

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