WELDON ROGERS (By Tony Wilkinson)
Born 30 October 1927, Marietta, Oklahoma
Weldon Rogers is basically a country singer who dabbled in Rockabilly but when he dabbled the result was 'So Long, Good Luck, Goodbye' a record with such an insidious riff that it should be on the shelves of any rock 'n' roll collection. He is also the guy who was co-responsible for starting the recording career of Roy Orbison and The Teen Kings. There is a good overview CD of his recordings available on Bear Family with excellent liner notes by Kevin Coffey and it is on the last mentioned that the following is based.
Weldon was one of five children born to Otto and Sadie Rogers who were basically farmers. During World War II, Weldon was stationed in Italy and learned the rudiments of guitar picking. When he came out of the services in 1947, he decided he did not want to be a farmer and so he headed out to California. Landing a full time job in an aircraft factory, he played in honky tonks at weekends. He continued a similar existence for a few years thereafter either in the Golden State or Texas. Come 1954, he got a job as a disc jockey at station KSML in Seminole, West Texas, that lasted for two years and was the start of a full time musical career. His first opportunity to record came in 1955 when he cut two sides for Wink Lewis and his Quenn label at the TNT studio, San Antonio. This record basically went nowhere and so Weldon established the Jewel label in partnership with Chester Oliver. According to Rogers, the basic purpose of the label was to record local acts that were dabbling i n the Elvis Presley inspired rockabilly music. Their first signing was Roy Orbison and The Teen Kings. A session had been planned at Norman Petty's Clovis studio and so Orbison and the group were sent there to record. And the end result was 'Ooby Dooby' c/w 'Trying To Get To You' which was issued on the aforementioned Jewel Records. The disc started to sell volumes when one record shop owner, a certain Chester Hollifield, got in contact with Sam Phillips at Sun in Memphis. When Sam was made aware of the fact that Orbison was underage when he signed the contract with Jewel, he jumped in and made out an alternative contract that Orbison's father co-signed. Phillips also got a court order to prevent Jewel selling any more of the disc (although seemingly another 5,000 copies were pressed with the assistance of Norman Petty).
This was enough for Chester Oliver who bowed out of the partnership with Weldon. In 1956, Rogers returned to a recording studio in Amarillo and made a duet disc with his brother Willie that was released on the reactivated Jewel label. Shortly thereafter, Weldon was back on the west coast and via family friend Johnny Bond, landed a series of appearances on the Town Hall Party. This eventually led to a recording contract with Imperial although it was on the back of Orbison's recording of 'Trying To Get To You' which Weldon passed off as his own. Lew Chudd agreed for Weldon to again record at Norman Petty's studio backed up by the Teen Kings, who had split from Orbison. Four sides were laid down including 'So Long, Good Luck, Goodbye' which was composed on the drive to the session. This side was selected for release along with a re-recording of 'Trying To Get To You'. The only trouble was when the record was issued, the company used the Roy Orbison version but credited to Weldon . There then arose a series of disagreements between Rogers and Chudd with the result that there were no more Imperial releases by the artist. Rogers asked for, and got, a release from his contract.
Relocating to Albuquerque, he met up with singer Dick Bills and got a job as the DJ on the local station as well as forming a band for supper club appearances. A nineteen years old Glen Campbell became the band's lead guitarist. He cut a single with femme vocalist Wanda Wolfe which came out on Jewel late 1958 or early 1959 with one side being the excellent rockin' 'Everybody Wants You' which is a close cousin to the song 'Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby'. Glen Campbell's guitar work on this side is especially good. After this Rogers relocated to Big Spring, Texas, where he got a job at station KHEM. He also formed a band by the name of the Western Melodiers for club work and started to record at Ben Hall's studio. Between then and mid 1960, Weldon released a clutch of singles on his Jewel label. He also leased tracks for issue on Slim Williamson's Peach Records out of Louisville, Georgia. Later Williamson bought the Chart label, and its subsidiary Great, which resulted in re leases by Weldon Rogers on these two companies. All of Weldon's recordings up to mid 1965 were cut at the aforementioned Ben Hall studio. Weldon was never signed onto Columbia. However he was a co-writer with his wife Wanda. Wanda Rogers was given the name Wanda Faye by Columbia after she was signed onto Columbia Records in 1964 and had two singles released on the label.
However in early 1961 he moved to Farmington, New Mexico, to work on Boyd Whitney's all country radio station KRZE and then in 1963 onto Roswell where he helped Boyd launch station KRSY. A year later he moved to Pueblo, Colorado, again adopting a mixture of radio station work and performing at clubs. It was from here onto Modesto California where a tour they had been on with Johnnie and Jack, Kitty Wells and Grandpa Jones had terminated. From here it was onto Medford, Oregon, and more radio work on station KSHA. In 1968 Weldon signed, what was to be for him, his final recording contract with K-Ark Records. For this company, Weldon issued three singles and one album between 1968 and 1972.
Rogers stayed in the Oregon area into the eighties, although in 1981 he had given up performing. From here it was a series of moves to Texas and New Mexico managing radio stations until he retired in 1989 and finally relocated to the Texas panhandle in 1991.
Bear Family 16165 AH - 'Tryin' To Get To You' - 1997.
This includes 29 out of a total of 50 tracks recorded by Weldon.
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