The Strikes, from Graham, Texas, were a sextet of college students who recorded innovative rockabilly during their short career (1956-57). They were a self-contained group who wrote their own material. Though they didn’t have much success at the time, their music was discovered by European fans during the rockabilly revival of the 1970s and has been heavily reissued since (including unissued tracks).
The group began life as a trio of students at Denton’s North Texas State College in January 1955. North Texas State was then a musical melting pot ; other students included Roy Orbison, Dick Penner and Wade Moore. The original Strikes were Willie Jacobs (lead vocal), Kenneth Ewing Scott (rhythm guitar and tenor) and Paul Kunz (bass singer). They sang at frat parties and campus stage shows. Jacobs and Kunz also played rhythm guitar, but not on record. Prior to the advent of Elvis, they listened to hillbilly music and played in a honky tonk style, influenced by Hank Williams, but they also had an appreciation for rhythm and blues.
In 1956 the original trio was joined by Albert Brandon Cornelius (a top-flight rock- abilly guitarist), Don Alexander (bass) and Walter Paschal Parsons (drums). In the summer of 1956, the Strikes hooked up with Joe Leonard, the owner of Lin Records in Gainesville, Texas, who held his sessions at Cliff Herring’s studio in Fort Worth. Before recording the group on their own, Leonard tried them out as a backing group, on a session by Andy Starr on September 9, 1956. All four songs on that date were supplied by members of the Strikes : “Give Me A Woman” and “No Room For Your Kind” were composed by Willie Jacobs ; “Round and Round” and “One More Time” by Don Alexander. Joe Leonard leased the tracks to MGM who released them on two singles.
The Strikes were given their own session on November 18, 1956. Three songs were recorded, of which “Come Back To Me” was held in the can (first release on a Rollin’ Rock EP in the mid-1970s). The other two songs, “If You Can’t Rock Me” (written by Willie Jacobs) and “Baby I’m Sorry” (by Kenneth Scott) were coupled for release on Lin 5006, credited to “The Strikes, Vocal by the Three Pelves”. The three main singers, Jacobs, Scott and Kunz, weren’t too happy with that billing. Following a licensing agreement between Joe Leonard and Imperial boss Lew Chudd, the single was reissued on Imperial 5433 in March 1957, this time simply credited to The Strikes. Later that year, both sides were covered by a fellow Imperial artist, Ricky Nelson, on his chart- topping debut album. Unfortunately for Ken Scott, he had sold the rights to “Baby I’m Sorry” (a virtual clone of “Little Mama” by the Clovers) for a one-off payment of $ 500.
A second session, on February 17, 1957, again yielded an Imperial single (“Rockin’” c/w “I Don’t Want To Cry Over You”) and a track that would remain unissued for several decades (“My Poor Heart” first appeared on the LP “Imperial Rockabillies, Vol. 3” in 1980). As far as we know, only “I Do” (a ballad) remains unissued from the few sides that the Strikes recorded for Joe Leonard. Their career lasted only 18 months. In September 1957, Willie Jacobs was drafted into the Army and the band split up. All members pursued a career outside music. Only Don Alexander, who had gone into broadcasting, maintained a songwriting relationship with Leonard and he recorded one single for Lin in January 1959 (“Knee Shakin’”/“She Giggles”) that came out under the name Don Terry. “Knee Shakin’” is a good rocker (the backing includes Hal Harris, Link Davis and Doc Lewis) and would also be recorded by Andy Starr in 1961.
More info : http://www.rockabillyhall.com/thestrikes.html
Discography : http://rcs-discography.com/rcs/artist.php?key=stri4200
Availability on CD :
Acknowledgements : Bill Millar, Brude Eder, Kevin Coffey.
Dik, June 2016
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