Born 11 August 1936, on a farm near Chetotah, Oklahoma
2011 is the comeback year for Clyde Stacy. Having retired from the music business in 1985, he was persuaded to return to the stage, first at Viva Las Vegas in April and, forthcoming, at the Hemsby Weekender in the UK (May 13-15). Also, Bear Family has just released his complete recordings on a CD in their series "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight". Stacy received his early schooling in Jenks, Oklahoma. There was a family move to Arizona before settling in Lubbock, Texas around 1949. This is where he became interested in the guitar and formed his first bands. Buddy Holly was one year ahead in the same high school. Circa 1954 Stacy moved back to Tulsa, Oklahoma, a city with a rich musical heritage. The Tulsa Sound has been described as a mix of rockabilly, country, rock n roll and blues of the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Among its exponents are Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, David Gates, Gene Croce, Rocky Frisco, Elvin Bishop and Dwight Tilley.
The group that Clyde formed in Tulsa in 1955 was called The Nitecaps, with John LeVan as lead guitarist. LeVan left to play with Gene Croce, but returned in time to play on the Nitecaps first recording session, held in the spring of 1957 for the Candlelight label, co-owned by Woody Hinderling, who became Clyde's producer. The rockabilly side was "Hoy Hoy", which was first recorded by Little Johnny Jones for Atlantic in 1953. It picked up a cover by the Collins Kids, which IMHO is inferior to Stacy's version. But it was the other side, "So Young", that attracted more attention and gave Clyde his only hit. "So Young" was a slow and moody song that had already been cut by Dave Lowe (Liberty Bell), the Clovers (Atlantic) and actor Robert Wagner (Liberty). Woody Hinderling decided to add a sexy female voice (Pat Peyton) to Clyde's version, which caused the record to be banned on some stations. Nevertheless, "So Young" peaked at # 68 on the Billboard charts, outselling all the other versions. Stacy and his Nitecaps appeared on American Bandstand and went on a national tour. When "So Young" was reissued on the Argyle label in 1959, it charted again, albeit at the very bottom of the Billboard Hot 100 : one week at # 100 and one week at # 99.
For his second Candlelight single, Stacy travelled to New York, where Hinderling hired prominent session men like Al Caiola, Ernie Hayes and Panama Francis. A cover of Dickey Lee's "Dream Boy" was coupled with Stacy's own composition "A Broken Heart (Is So Hard To Mend)". Like "So Young", the record sold well in Canada, where Clyde has always been more popular than in his own country, but it made no noise in the USA. His next three singles, all recorded in 1958, were made for the Bullseye label in New York City, which was also co-owned by Woody Hinderling. First came "Baby Shame", written and originally recorded by Little Willie Littlefield. Stacy's version (recorded with the same session players as on "Dream Boy") surpasses the original and is probably his best known track, at least in Europe, where it was reissued in the 1970s, first on a Collector LP ("Big Al Downing And His Friends") and then on a repro single in the UK. The next Bullseye single coupled two covers : "Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor" (Johnny Horton, originally by Jess Willard) and "I Sure Do Love You Baby" (Bobby Lee Trammell). Very competent versions both, with adventurous guitar / piano work on "I Sure Do .." by Al Caiola, Kenny Burrell and Ernie Hayes. The third Bullseye single combined the teen rocker "You Want Love" with a straight version of the pop standard "Once In A While". Again, these records did well in Canada, but nowhere else. In the summer of 1960, while living in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Clyde Stacy recorded eight demos in Washington, D.C., with his touring band, the Four Flames, and two former Poe-Kats (Bobby Poe's group), Vernon Sandusky (guitar) and Big Al Downing (piano). The (interesting) results, six vocal numbers and two instrumentals, were first released on a German CD (Eagle 90112) in 1993. Especially good is Clyde's version of "Summertime Blues", with the addition of Downing's piano and a slight change in the lyrics : Stacy is going to take a 10-week vacation, whereas Eddie Cochran modestly limited himself to two weeks. The same musicians cut four more tracks in mid-1961, two of which ("Sittin' Down Crying"/"You're Satisfied") were issued on a single (Len 1015, Bobby Poe's label), while the other two stayed on the shelf until the 1993 Eagle CD. This was Stacy's final appearance on record, though there was at least one more session in 1962 or 1963, the results of which are unissued and lost.
Clyde stayed in Scranton and worked clubs in the area (playing country, rockabilly and blues) before moving back to Oklahoma in 1975. He retired in 1985, but still played some shows and special events for friends when asked. Currently he lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Stacy is one of the few 1950s rockabilly artists who has not performed in Europe, but that is about to change. During his scheduled appearance at Hemsby he will be reunited with his old guitar player John D. LeVal. More about LeVal at http://www.rockabillyhall.com/johndlevan.html Clyde Stacy is NOT the same person as Clarence Stacy (best known for the 1959 single "Lonely Guy") ; there is a German Hydra LP from 1988 that includes three tracks by Clarence among ten songs by Clyde.
More info :
CD : Clyde Stacy, Hoy Hoy (Bear Family BCD 17152). Released 2011. 22 tracks. Liner notes by Wayne Russell.
Acknowledgements : Wayne Russell, Eric Dunsdon (NDT review).
Dik May 2011
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