Born Louis Terence Josie, 14 July 1938, Medina, Ohio
Lou Josie, who attributes his musical talent to Hungarian ancestry, was born in Medina, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. The son of a steelworker, Josie was surrounded by country music from infancy, as his mother was a diehard fan of that genre. Listening to Alan Freed's radio show on Cleveland's WJW and an Elvis Presley appearance in Cleveland were other decisive musical influences. By 1958, Lou Josie had become the resident session guitarist at Cleveland's Audio Recording Studio, where he did two recording sessions. The first of these resulted in the single "Why Did You Leave Me"/ "Someone Else Instead" (Argo 5293, credited to Lou Josie and the Spinners) and the second in "Breezin' Out"/"Time's A Wastin'" (Argo 5312). All four songs were written or co-written by Josie himself. Strangely, the best track from the second session, "Vacation's Over", a truly great rocker, was not issued by Chess at the time and stayed in the can until 1978, when it was released on the UK LP "Chess Rockabillies" (Chess 9124213). Lou's third 1958 single came out on the Herald label from New York, "Knockin' On Your Door", but this time Josie used the pseudonym Jimmy King, to which he would return for the 1962 recording "Walk In the Sun" on CRC Records. "I'm Gonna Git Cha"/"Lonely Years" for Baton, another NYC label, was again credited to Lou Josie (1959).
Throughout 1959, Josie scraped a living penning songs and playing guitar on sessions at the Audio Recording studios by unknown local acts such as the Paris Brothers, Wendy Boy Blevins, Veline Hackett and Buddy Covelle, most of which were leased to Decca under a licensing arrangement which superseded the studio's previous deal with Chess. It is probably Josie playing guitar on Bill Allen's wild rockabilly opus, "Please Give Me Something", which was leased to Imperial Records.
In 1961 Lou moved to Los Angeles, where he teamed up with Jan Davis, a busy session guitarist, songwriter and arranger, who also recorded prolifically under his own name, mostly guitar instrumentals. Davis was involved with almost all post-"Nutrocker" recordings by the studio group B. Bumble and the Stingers, where his co-writing credits appear on the label as by "John A. Bird" or simply Bird. Josie joined the touring version of B. Bumble and the Stingers as rhythm guitarist and as such he toured the U.K. in October-November 1962. As Jan and Lou, Davis and Josie recorded a vocal single in 1961, ("Leaving Town Tomorrow"), for Rendezvous. Prior to that, Josie had released "Talk To the Angels" (Rendezvous 143), a white doowop song in the style of "In the Still Of the Night". In 1963, Jan and Lou became the Ho-Dads, who had two instrumental releases on Imperial, after that label had been purchased by Liberty Records. In fact, the very first record in Imperial's new 66000 series was by the Ho-Dads ("Honky"/"Legends", 66001). Instrumental surf / hot rod music was very popular in 1963-64 and Davis was involved in many projects in that genre. Davis also recorded the original version of "Fugitive" (A&M 733) in 1964, written by Lou Josie and Marty Cooper, which was immediately covered by the Ventures (Dolton 94). Next, Josie and Cooper wrote "Guitar Star" for Duane Eddy, which was also recorded by Davis (A&M 744).
Josie stopped recording and performing after 1963, but continued writing songs, with increasing success. Stevie Wonder took his "Hey Harmonica Man" to # 29 in 1964, and "Soul Finger" by the Bar-Kays (co-written with five others) even made the Top 20 (# 17, 1967). Josie's biggest seller came in 1968, when his composition "Midnight Confessions" by the LA quartet the Grass Roots went to # 5 on the Billboard charts. However, after Tommy Roe's "We Can Make Music" (# 49, 1970), the hits dried up. With his wife he operated a talent agency in Florida until recently. In 2002, he decided to record a 10-track CD of self-penned songs that had not been recorded by others ("Me And Mother Music", Girl Talk Records). He is still writing songs.
Acknowledgements : Bill Millar, Liner notes for "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 10 : Rockabilly From the Vaults of Chess Records" (Bear Family BCD 16123). This CD includes three songs by Lou Josie: "Vacation's Over", "Why Did You Leave Me" and "Breezin' Out".
- Rob Finnis, Liner notes for "Rockin' From Coast To Coast, Vol. 1 " (Ace CDCHD 496).
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