EDDIE CASH (By Bo Berglind)
Born Edward Allen Cash, 28 February 1941, Memphis, Tennessee
For years the artist behind the name Eddie Cash was a question mark. We had heard he'd played in Las Vegas but we could not locate him, and it was not until 1991 when my buddy Erik and me visited Memphis we saw him name on a sign. He played at a hotel close to the airport, we tried to get hold of him but had not the time stay and look further. Next rumors said that Klaus Kettner of Hydra had been in touch with him so we asked Klaus, but still no luck.
It wasn't until Tony Wilkinson caught his act in Branson, Missouri in 1995 and asked him if he had any interest to have his story told. I contacted Eddie and he agreed to the article. This is what came out of our correspondence.
Edward Allen Cash was born on February 28, 1941, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was the only child to Virginia and James Cash (no relation to Johnny). His father worked at Firestone Tire & Rubber and was a foreman in the machine shop, he was also a machinist and a tool and tire man. Eddie's mother was a house wife and he commented:
-My mom had a fulltime job raising an idiot like me.
In school Eddie's biggest interest was history. He didn't caught a really interest for music until the cool cat music came along. He thought that there would be a place for him also. We asked him what his main music influences had been before Elvis entered the scene and after, Eddie:
-Well, to be quite honest with you I was very much affected by as far as my heart concerns with blues. I've always been a great fan of blues. I got into rockabilly or rock 'n' roll as you now call it at a very early age. I began in the business in 1956 and this is my 40th year. My biggest rockabilly influence was probably Carl Perkins. I think the first song I ever sang first at a contest which I entered at the Casino at the Fairground which here in Memphis and incidentally won was a song called "Matchbox". I'm a big BB King fan, I love blues very much. I like all styles of music as far as answer your question. I grew up in a neighbourhood full of kids that wanted to be in the entertainment business. I don't know why but for some strange reason, when I was a kid growing up in Memphis we had a neighbourhood full of kids like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Isac Hayes, Al Green, The Staple Singers, Kay Starr, The Blackwood Brothers Quartet, Booker T &
The MGs, The Will
Eddie put his first band together in 1956 which was called "The Mad Caps". But, first of all Eddie wanted to be a drummer, but fait wanted different, Eddie:
-I was about fourteen. I began in the business wanting to be a drummer. I'm a frustrated drummer, I don't play very well, and I haven't played for a long time, but I love to play drums very much. In the first band I organized I was the drummer. The kid that was gonna sing was Virgil Henry, and Virgil got arrested for stealing hub caps and they told me I had to sing. The reason being that they had another drummer but they did not have another singer. So I had to sing and give up my drums or get out of the band, so I threw my drums away and began to sing and I've been singing for four decades now.
Eddie managed to get bookings through Bob Neal without having a record released. He also got his first manager in Gary Peters, who was soon replaced by Bill Harris, Bill had played the bass for Harold Jenkins but when Harold left Memphis Bill quit his job, Eddie:
-Bob Neal was a dear friend and Bob booked some dates for me, but he was not my agent or manager. My first manager was a man who worked for Quickeroots Company and he was a bass player and manager for the original Conway Twitty band. When he left Conway he came with me and was my manager and as a matter if fact he was influential in getting me my first record contract with the American Recording and the Lansky Brothers at Peak. Bill was also instrumental in having me do my recordings with Fernwood and Scotty Moore.
When Elvis, in September 1956, travelled to Los Angeles to make his first movie "Love Me tender", Scotty, Bill and DJ was left behind in Memphis, they needed job to pay their bills, Eddie:
-Scotty Moore and Bill Black was pretty much in the same bag as far as my interest was concern because we all worked together. My first professional job was singing with the original Presley band, this what happened; Clearpool was an old place located out on the highway. Presley had gone to do his first motion picture. Colonel Parker asked Bill Harris and my other friend, a radio announcer that acted as a part time manager, Ray Brown was his name. They wanted me to sing with the Presley band because they knew I knew all the Presley songs and all of his keys and tempos and they would not have to reharse anybody. It was kinda sneaky but quite an experience. My band members were tickled to death that I were able to go on stage with some of the greatest musician around and they did not mind.
Eddie struck a long relationship with Scotty and Bill and Bill even played bass with Eddie before he founded the Bill Black Combo, more about that later. On April 12 1957 did Eddie and his band participate in a talent contest called "The Mid-South Youth Talent Contest" at the Memphis Fairground which he won by performing "Matchbox". A few days before the contest Eddie had picked up his brand new red coat with the initials "EC" and a pair of pin striped pants. On the same day as the contest he received a good luck telegram from the Lansky Brothers Mens Shop, Eddie:
-I entered the contest because I had been watching a lot of them playing around Memphis and I thought I could do better than them, it was that simple.
or Jimmy Van Eaton(d). Eddie may well have the time wrong as he's sure he did the Sun session before the Peak recordings, Eddie:
(The Sun session and the peak session seem to be very close, talking about this 40 years, later Eddie might very well be mistaken)
-The first recording session I ever did was at the Sun Recording Studio. I still have fond memories of that. It was a terrible thing, they were really bad. We used all the Sun musicians, everybody that cut with Jerry Lee and all those guys, Bill Riley but it was terrible. My dad was a camera and recording nut and thanks to him I have a copy of every session I ever did. At about the same time I also did recordings for a television show at WHBQ. They had a disc jockey by the name of Dewey Phillips who they used to call "Daddy-O-Dewey", he first broke Elvis.
Like all the other musicians in Memphis Eddie bought his stage suits at Lanskys and struck a friendship with them. A friendship that would lead to a recording contract, Eddie:
-To be quite honest with you I knew the Lansky Brothers very well as I bought all my cloths there because Elvis did and so did everybody else that I grew up with. The Lanskys were pretty much the people who did all the clothing things around because they had black cloths on Beale Street, which is a black street in a black neighbourhood full of black people and the black influence and black music and the Lansky Brothers were selling loud cloths and that was very much the thing for a young teenagers in 1956 who wanted to be cool and nosy. The Lansky Brothers very much had the market and all of us went there. The Lanskys owned Peak and the American Recording which was a small studio they had build in the back of their warehouse where they kept all their cloths. Bill Harris knew about this and when he came along and asked if they wanted to record me they said yes. So they got together and I was probably one of the first artists ever signed to Peak and I would have a hit record
The signing of the contract and the actual recording session happened with a seven-day period. We also asked if there were other unreleased songs and how many takes they used before it came out satisfactory, Eddie continues:
-Oh, my goodness, how many takes? To be quite honest I don't know, but it was a song that we got from Harold a little earlier and we reharsed it for maybe a couple of hours, I guess. We got it down pretty good and I did all of the arranging. I arranged pretty much everything until we got with Scotty Moore at Fernwood, and then he helped us a lot. But I did most of the Peak stuff because it was my band that played the music, they were not session musicians, they were my personal musicians and they played only with me. The arrangement was pretty much done before we even got into the studio and it went on real quick, probably not more than one or two takes. I wrote "Land Of Promises" myself along with my guitar player Gerald Hunsucker. I did all the producing and the Lansky Brothers were executive producers. They put the money in the bank and behind it. We did approach them, Bill and I went down and brought the band. They had heard me but not the band, so one day we
got them int
Eddie's first record "Doing All Righjt" b/w "Land Of Promises" was released in November 1958. The Memphis disc jockey George Klein had it as his "Pick Of The Week" on November 21 together with Johnny Cash' "It's Just About Time".
Elvis held the number one spot with "One Night", Kimball Coburn , another Memphis singer, was on position eleven with "Please, Please" on Hi. On January 16 it was number eight on radio WTUP chart, and in February we copuld read in the Memphis Press-Scimitar where Robert Johnson wrote:
When WLEE-Richmond presented its chart for September 21, 1959 they had Eddie on spot thirteen. Rod Bernard held the second position with "This Should Go On Forever", Tommy Dee had "Three Stars" at #14 and Neil Sedaka was at #15 with "I Got Ape". The month he appeared in the Stardom Magazine
In 1959 Eddie entered another talent contest sponsored by the daily newspaper "Memphis Press-Scimitar" and WREC-TV. This appearance opened more doors and Eddie appears several times on Wink Martindales TV-show "Talent Party" over WHBQ-TV. By this time Harold Jenkins had turned Conway Twitty and was a big star and had gone off to Hollywood to make a movie. His musicians was left behind and he was again asked to step in for the star and did several shows with them during the shooting of Twitty's first movie.
By this time Peak had released quite a few recordings and this article appeared some time during 1959.
During this time he hand Bill Black on bass and they appeared during weekends on local clubs and in the nearby states of Arkansas and Mississippi. Most of them time they had advanced booking on the same route during Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The following story it quite remarkable:
-I put a band together, Bill and Scotty had just left Presley and were looking for jobs. Both Scotty and Bill worked with me several times on jobs and I had done some jobs with them so we knew each other and we worked together. Everybody in Memphis worked together at that time. All the Sun and Hi studio musicians and all those people at Stax. Everybody know everybody from bass player Duck Dunn and all the way down to Jimmy van Eaton. I was the youngest and the most inmature and probably the worst in town, but I was working and some of them not, Anyhow, I called up Bill and we puit a little band together, he had a drummer called Jerry Arnold, who was to be the original drummer in the Bill Black Combo, they used to call him Satch. Satch Arnold and I had a saxophone player by the name of Martin Willis who was one of the finest musicians in town. He did a lot of stuff for Sun and was also with Conway for a time. The greatest guitar player I ever run across in my life is Reggie
-Bill, get ready to go to the thing and I'll pick you up, and he said:
-We're not going.
-So what do you mean, you're not going? This is Wednesday we're opening at the Silver Moon Night Club in Newport, Arkansas and Friday we're making $15 dollars a piece and you ain't going.
-No, Joe Cuoghi from Hi Records called and he's gonna give us a recording session.
-Well, you go ahead and do your recording session and I'll organize another band and I'm going my way.
So Bill went on and recorded "Smokie Part 1 & 2" and made his first million seller and I got $15 and went on singing at the Silver Moon Night Club in Newport, Arkansas. But that's a true Bill Black Story. It's a shame too that Bill's gone. He was a fine man a lot of fun and I miss Bill Black, he was a good friend.
In late 1959 or early 1960 Peak released his follow up single "Come On Home" b/w "Day After Day", which ad been recorded in 1959. Unfortunately this record died on the day of its release and Eddie was very disappointed at the Lanskys for not pushing his records and he recorded a session at Fernwood Studio in Memphis:
-We recorded at the Fernwood Studio, downtown on the Main Street. Scotty gave me the story that Elvis was sorry to see them leave and bought Bill Black a house and Fernwood Records for Scotty. Bill Harris wrote one side called "Thinkin' Man" and he got the idea from a Marlboro slogan. Then I wrote the other side "Livin' Lovin' Temptation". On the session we used Jackie Hartwell(g), Gerald Hunsucker(rg), Prentiss McPhail(eb), Tommy Bennett(p), Dennis Smith(d) and Martin Willis(ts). We had female vocal gropup The DeLons, which also appeared on Thomas Wayne's recording of "Tragedy". But it got to the attention of Randy Wood through a friend of mine at radio WMPS here in Memphis, I think it was Ray Brown or it might have been Scotty Moore, I can't recall. Anyhow, they got to Randy and told him to sign me up. Randy heard the record but didn't want it on Dot so he placed it on Dot's subsidiary label called Todd and it did absolutely nothing.
The record was released in March 1960 and Todd spent money on advertisement in Cashbox and it was also reviewed. There are also two different label designs, my copy is pressed in Los Angeles by Monarch. Eddie's next stop was Roulette Records, which came by coincidence where one single was released:
-How I got my Roulette contract was a sick thing. I had graduated from High School in 1959 and left Memphis. I left Bill Harris and everything behind me because my records didn't do what they were supposed to do. I wanted to go on the road as the record at this time made some noise in Chicago I went there to work. The record plays on the radio, people know your name and get jobs, it's that simple. In Chicago I organized another band as the musicians from Memphis wouldn't leave town. When I got to Chicago I got a trio together and we played all over the city. We had a couple of tunes that we were just playing and we went over to some guy's and for forty or fifty dollars we cut a two demos. It was a demo, a junkie demo, really a bad cheap demo in a garage with seven microphones. I had at the time signed a contract to work with Orchestras Incorporated at 332 South Michigan in the McCormick building. They saw me on the Jim Lounsbury Show, which was the Chicago version of
and he said:
-Oh no, it's terrible.
-No, they love it.
So I signed a contract, they released it and it bell right on its butt.
Eddie continued to make demos when opportunity occurred, When in Chicago he did recordings in a studio owned by RCA Victor, Eddie:
-In the early 60s I did a lot of sessions. We did one at RCA Studios in Chicago, I hired the studio and took my musicians in there and paid them for the session. I borrowed the money from my mother-in-law. I have never forgiven myself for not doing anything with them. They were done with my trio and a band called The Warner Brothers, not the Warner Brothers Record Company, it was an act that I worked with in Chicago. They were about five musicians so we put the two bands together and I did all the arrangements and the stuff myself. I was with The Warner Brothers Band and worked with them at The Baritz with the Bucus Brothers at the Erwin Park and Sherdon Road in Chicago. These recordings are not be be confused with the one's I did in Nashville. But if you're into Nashville I got some recordings that I did with Fred Carter that has not been released.
When I found out about the Nashville recordings I just had to send Eddie a cassette where he told me the following story:
-I also did some great recordings in Nashville for a very dear friend of mine, Fred Carter, he's a guitar player and has his own studio before Uncle Sam closed him down. They closed him down and guttered him about three times. Fred knew me from Conway Twitty's band where I had played. He knew that I wsa capable of doing different styles of music and asked me to come to Nashville at three different times and do some dub work for him which I did and I still have those recordings from the early 60s with all the Nashville musicians. I remember Floyd Cramer, Hank Garland and Bob Moore. They are gorgeous and that's probably the finest quality things I have recorded at the same time. Most of my recordings happened 1958-64, right through that era, before I went to Vegas.
When things had cooled down in Chicago Eddie was already working on a totally different thing. He was by this time tired of people who asked if he was Johnny Cash's brother. He had since 1960 spent six years on the road playing constantly on the east coast, the mid-west, Canada and Greenland. He had appeared together with, and played with the cream of the crop from the golden Fifties. None of his recordings had been national hits at the very best they were local hits and he began to look for other things to put into his stage act. He began to do imitations. When in Los Angeles in 1966 he became friendly with an agent from Studio City who liked Eddie's show and offered him a 10 days at a hotel in Las Vegas. He was very uncertain about this, he had shows lined up and they had to be cancelled, the musicians he used would have to be left with full pay to be sure to have after the Vegas show. But the possibility was that he could be a hit, Eddie:
-In about 1966 when I got to Vegas I noticed there's a couple of things going on that I wasn't aware of. When I got to Las Vegas the place had about fifty-eight major lounges and fifty-nine major casinos downtown and on the strip in each one of these. I guess you can call them cabaret or showbar and each of them had an eighteen hour shift with four or sometimes five different acts working back-to-back. We were doing three or four shows a piece with an hour in between so the other guys can do it and that went on seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year for almost eighteen or nineteen years. If you didn't think of something unique or something good the other acts would get your people and you'd be fired if you didn't draw people. I'm proud to say that when I went to Vegas I had a ten day contract with the Mint Hotel in downtown Las Vegas with Del Webb, that 10 days contract turned into some eighteen years. So what I have written in the stories I done on the stage and this is
Before he went to Vegas in 1966 he did a show in Memphis at the end of July at Little Abner's Rebel Room. The show was reviewed by Bill E. Burk for the Memphis Press-Scimitar on July 28, 1966 .
Eddie did his last Vegas show in 1984 and returned to Memphis. He had been acquainted with Siegfried & Roy who had all their music programmed on a computer and did not need a forty-piece orchestra, they just pushed a button. This was something Eddie knew was coming and he came home to began working on this. But most of all his parents were ill and in bad shape and Eddie felt he needed to be home and take care of them. In Memphis he also opened a dinner theatre and worked there for five years, Eddie:
-We didn't start the computer thing until 1990. We moved to Cicero, Missouri, just a few miles down the road from Branson, Missouri in the 1992. We've been here at The Olympic Theatre on 6134 Cermak Road for three years and are still doing fine. We're doing five shows a week and we'll stay here a few more years until we move on.
By the end of the Nineties Eddie was back in Memphis. When doing these interviews and the talks we had over several phone calls over the duck pond I found him a to be a very nice man. But, also very bitter and suspicious over that he was not gonna get paid properly. He wanted to come to Europe, but at the same time afraid he's not gonna be paid. He told me that:
-I have done tons of recordings, I have boxes and boxes and boxes of Eddie Cash singing stuff that nobody wanted to buy and that makes me bitter 'cause some of it was in fact very good.
Bo Berglind - March 2001 (Supplied to TIMS by Tony Wilkinson.)
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