Sammy Masters, Whop-T-Bop by Paul Vidal

Born in Sasakawa, Oklahoma on July 18, 1930, Sammy Masters became interested in music when watching Gene Autry and Roy Rogers in the movies and listening to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on the radio. One of Sammy's biggest influences was Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys - Sammy would listen to their afternoon shows when they performed on radio station KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

At the age of 12, Sammy appeared on radio KTUL in Tulsa with Art Davis and His Rhythm Riders. Sammy's family moved to California where he finished High School. That's when he made appearances with Spade Cooley's Band for a short time. He then went with Ole Rasmussen and His Nebraska Cornhuskers for about a year and a half. It is not clear if Sammy ever recorded with them in the studio. Sammy cut his first solo record in the early fifties on the Cormac label in Santa Ana titled "Lost Little Nickel". Sammy served in the US Army where he did many shows for the troops in Korea. Around 1954 Sammy came back to California and started writing and making demos for 4-Star Publishing Co. in Pasadena, California.

In 1956 Bill McCall of 4-Star Records asked Sammy if he wanted to do some rockabilly and so he did. From that session came two fabulous singles. Sammy's unique vocals and Jimmy Bryants guitar wizardry make these four songs stand out among the best of rockabilly recordings of the 1950s: "Pink Cadillac" b/w "Some Like It Hot" and "Whop-T-Bop" b/w "Flat Feet". In early 1957, an almost identical version of Sammy's first single (4-Star 1695) was released on Modern Records (#1003) and credited to Johnny Todd. The only difference between the originals and these versions was the addition overdubbed drums. Another rocker was cut during that same period and issued as an alternative flip side to his second outing, titled "2-Rock-A-Four".

There would be a few more sides recorded at 4-Star which appeared on a couple of EPs as well as a Decca single. By the end of 1957, his contract with Bill Mc Call's label was up. Sammy kept on writing songs and cutting demos - such as "Twin Pipes & Pin Stripes". Sammy went on to work for the Major and Lode labels, both owned by his friend, Terry Fell. In 1959, Sammy had his biggest hit with "Rockin' Red Wing" b/w "Lonely Weekend" (Lode 108). Sammy had previously made appearances on Cliffie Stone's popular 'Hometown Jamboree' TV show and on 'Town Hall Party' but now he stepped up to Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand'.

In the early '60s, Sammy started his own label, Gallahad Records. One of the earliest releases on the label (#101) in 1961 was a 45 by a movie stunt man, Tony Epper, coupling two Spade Cooley compositions, "Shame On You" and "Cold Gray Bars". The single was pressed by RCA Victor Hollywood studios. But Sammy went to Bob Summers' studio in El Monte to cut his own Gospel album in 1964. Other Gallahad sides by Masters were leased to Kapp through Snuff Garrett (of Liberty Records).

Sammy Masters also has written several songs which were recorded by Bobby Darin, Wayne Newton, Glen Campbell and Patsy Cline. Patsy sang Sammy's "Who Can I Count On" (the flip side of "Crazy") giving him his biggest hit as a writer. That same song was also recorded - but issued years after his death - by Eddie Cochran. In 1997, Sammy cut a CD for Dyonysos Records and the following year, he was booked to appear in England at Hemsby's 21st Rock'n'Roll Weekend on the same bill as Merrill Moore, Joe Clay and Otis Williams.

Derived from a story by PAUL VIDAL, June 2001
(Used with permission)

Read the full story at Paul's fabulous "Big V Jamboree",
which also contains the full Sammy Masters discography: