Roy Head and The Traits, 1958 and 2001
|Born||January 9, 1941|
Three Rivers, Texas, United States
|Genres||Blue-eyed soul, country, R&B, rock and roll, rockabilly|
Head achieved fame as a member of a musical group out from San Marcos, Texas known as The Traits. The group's sponsor landed their first recording contract in 1958 with TNT Music in San Antonio while they were still in high school. The Traits performed and recorded in the rockabilly, rock and roll and rhythm and blues musical styles from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. Though landing several regional hits between 1959 and 1963 on both the TNT and Renner Record labels, Head is best known for the 1965 blue-eyed soul international hit, "Treat Her Right", recorded by Roy Head and the Traits. After going solo, Head landed several hits on the country and western charts between 1975 and 1985. During his career of some 50 years, he has performed in several different musical genres and used a somewhat confusing array of record labels, some too small to provide for national marketing and distribution. Roy Head and the Traits held reunions in 2001 and 2007 and were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2007. One of the most gifted performers of his era, Head's extraordinary dancing and acrobatic showmanship are legendary, often compared to the likes of Elvis Presley or James Brown.
After moving to San Marcos in 1955 Head, along with San Marcos native Tommy Bolton, formed a musical group in 1957 known as The Traits/aka Roy Head and The Traits who would record and perform for the next nine years. The original group consisted of fellow high school students Head (vocals), Tommy Bolton (rhythm guitar) (1941–2003), Gerry Gibson (drums), Dan Buie (piano), Clyde Causey (lead guitar), and Bill Pennington (bass). When Causey joined the military he was replaced by George Frazier (1941–1996) just before the band started their recording career at Tanner N Texas (TNT) Recording Company, owned by Bob Tanner and located in San Antonio. The Traits had several regional hits at TNT with songs such as "One More Time", "Live It Up", both released in 1959, and "Summertime Love" (1960), establishing themselves in the late 1950s and the early 1960s as one of the premier teenage Texas-based rock and roll bands while playing the concert, sock hop, college and university and dance hall circuits throughout Texas. It was during this period that the parents of The Traits turned down Dick Clark's invitation for the boys to appear on American Bandstand, which ABC had started broadcasting nationwide from Philadelphia in 1957. At the time, all of the Traits were "minors", and some were still in high school.
In 1961 and 1962 The Traits added saxophonists David McCumber and Danny Gomez to the line-up and produced additional Texas/regional hits from Renner Records, a label owned by Jessie Schneider of San Antonio. Renner label No. 221 and Ascot No. 2108, a subsidiary of United Artists Records, distributed The Traits version of Ray Sharpe's 1959 "Linda Lu", with "Little Mama" by Dan Buie and Head on the B-side. Renner Records also released The Traits "Got My Mojo Working" and "Wo Wo" on label No. 229. By the time the 1962 recordings were taped and mastered at Jeff Smith's Texas Sound Studio in San Antonio for the Renner label, Johnny Clark and Frank Miller had replaced Frazier and Bolton at lead and rhythm guitars, respectively.
After attending SWTSTC (TSU) for two years, Buie, who played guitar and harmonica as well as keyboards, taught for several years before settling into public health administration, after receiving his baccalaureate degree and doing post graduate studies at The University of Texas. Tommy Bolton organized and played with other Central Texas musical groups while both he and Clyde Causey launched careers with the Department Of The Treasury. Danny Gomez graduated from SWTSTC (TSU) and later earn his doctorate at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. David McCumber went on to pursue his love for music at Sound Master's studio in Houston Texas and then went on to open a Real Estate Company in Austin Texas. He ran the company until his retirement where he enjoyed travel with his wife Sandra until his death from Melanoma cancer in 2005. George Frazier would pursue real estate investment interests, and Bill Pennington followed in his mother's footsteps and become a successful owner of Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos. Only Head and Gibson would continue with careers in music. The songwriting talents, and subsequent recording successes, of The (original) Traits during their first five years on a regional level were under the watchful eyes of Ms. Edra Pennington (1913–2005) and Dr. T.R. Buie(1909–2000), would lay the groundwork for what would happen in the group's last four years.
Roy Head and the Traits signed with Scepter Records in 1964. Scepter had developed a nationwide network of independent distributors while working with The Shirelles. By this time Gene Kurtz had replaced Pennington at bass, Kenny Williams had replaced Clark at lead guitar, Ronnie Barton's trumpet was added to the mix and backup singer Sarah Fulcher started performing with the group. Roy Head and the Traits released a vinyl 45 featuring the vocals of Head and Fulcher on the Lori label No. 9551: "Get Back" (later released on Scepter No. 12124) and "Never Make Me Blue".
In 1965 the band signed with the record producer Huey Meaux of Houston, who maintained a stable of record labels. "Treat Her Right" was recorded at Gold Star Studios (later known as SugarHill Recording Studios) in Houston. Issued on Don Robey's Back Beat label, it reached No. 2 on both the U.S. Pop and R&B charts in 1965, behind The Beatles' "Yesterday". "Treat Her Right", with its blazing horns and punchy rhythm, credited to Head and bass man Gene Kurtz, established Head as a prime exponent of blue-eyed soul. The fact that this was accomplished during the high point of the British Invasion makes it all the more impressive. By 1995, "Treat Her Right" had been covered by 20 nationally known recording artists including Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sawyer Brown, Bon Jovi and both Mae West and Barbara Mandrell under the title of "Treat Him Right". Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones covered it "live". Roy Head and the Traits "Just a Little Bit" and the bluesy-rockabilly hybrid, "Apple Of My Eye" also cracked the Top 40 in 1965. However, those were tiny hits in the wake of "Treat Her Right", which is estimated to have sold over four million copies worldwide, and was a featured song, along with Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Steve Cropper's "In the Midnight Hour", in the successful 1991 motion picture, The Commitments.
In 1965 TNT released the group's first album consisting of their music recorded for TNT and Renner Records, TLP No. 101 entitled Roy Head and the Traits, which was also distributed by the New York-based Scepter Records. Goldmine Album Price Guide offers a 'counterfeit caution' when buying this album. The original from TNT did not include the song "Treat Her Right", although it is included in the more widely distributed Sceptor pressing. The 'counterfeit' album is also attributed to TNT, but with blue lettering on the label rather than the TNT red. A CD offering 30 tracks today and containing the original red, black and yellow graphics on its cover is considered an offshoot of the 'counterfeit' vinyl version of the album.
Video clips from this time period show Head to have been a dynamic and versatile eccentric dancer; there are at least three extant clips of him performing "Treat Her Right" and each one is different from the others in terms of choreography. Modern viewers have compared his jumps and slides to those of James Brown or even the Nicholas Brothers; because he was white but his footwork included moves popular among African American gymnastic dancers, he was sometimes said to be a practitioner of "blue-eyed soul".
The chart-makers recorded and released on the Back Beat and Scepter labels spelled the end of Head's association with what has come to be thought of as the “second group” of Traits. See "Doubled Edged Sword" in The Story of Roy Head and The Traits.
Later releases by Head on Dunhill and Elektra contained elements of rockabilly and psychedelic rock, but by the mid-1970s his solo career had led him to country. He signed first with Mega Records and then with Shannon Records and later on with ABC Records and Elektra Records. After releasing the 1970 cult classic "Same People That You Meet Going Up You Meet Coming Down" on Dunhill Records, Head's music reached the U.S. country music Top 100 24 times by the mid-1980s, while landing three Top 20 hits: "The Most Wanted Woman in Town", (1975) "Come To Me" and "Now You See Em, Now You Don't" both in 1977 and recorded on the ABC/Dot label reaching No. 16 and No. 19, respectively.
Even the earliest blues-laced, rockabilly-styled recordings of The Traits, primarily written in a collaboration between Bolton, Buie, Gibson and Head, have demonstrated lasting power with "One More Time", "Live It Up" and "Summertime Love" making periodic surges into the Top 100 in various parts of Europe. Joe "King" Carrasco had a hit covering The Traits "One More Time" and releasing it on Hannibal Records and Stiff Records (UK) in 1981-1982. Two Tons of Steel covered "One More Time" again on both CD and DVD in 2000, Palo Duro Records entitled Two Tons of Steel – Live at Gruene Hall. Discographies reveal that much of the music originally written, composed and recorded by the Traits at TNT and Renner Records between 1958 and 1962, has been re-released over the past four decades numerous times by as many as 20 different record labels both in the U.S. and abroad.
During 1966 and 1967, when Head was working with the Roy Head Trio, The Traits independently recorded using Dean Scott on lead vocals. Scott had previously been the stand-in vocalist while Head had been away in the military. In 1967 The Traits recorded with pre-fame Johnny Winter featuring Winter's vocals and blistering guitar leads, producing a vinyl 45; "Parchman Farm" and "Tramp" on Universal 30496. No one knew that Johnny Winter was just months away from bursting upon the national scene with his appearance at Woodstock. Johnny Winter later re-released the track of "Tramp" he recorded with The Traits in his 1988 compilation album, Birds Can't Row Boats.
After the 1967 disbanding of the Roy Head Trio consisting of Head, Gibson, Kurtz and guitarist David "Hawk" Koon, Head started pursuing his solo career.
Head is a member of the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame, the Texas Country and Western Music Hall of Fame and the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame. Roy Head and The Traits held reunions in 2001 and 2007. Both reunions involved performances at Kent Finley's Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos an early musical hangout of George Strait. During their October 2007 sold-out Golden Anniversary Concert appropriately billed as 'Roy Head and The Tratis - For The Last Time', at Texas State University, Roy Head and The (original) Traits were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame by the Hall's Curator, Bob Timmers. Tommy Bolton and George Frazier were inducted posthumously. Musicians for the performance were Traits Head, Gerry Gibson, Dan Buie, Clyde Causey, Bill Pennington and Gene Kurtz, with special guests Bill York, Don Hutchko, Don Head (1933–2009), and his son, Jason "Sundance" Head.
In 2008, Head performed in Cleveland, Ohio for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As observed by the Austin Music Awards organization, 'if someone ever starts a Hall of Fame for blue-eyed soul artist, “Roy Head and the Traits” should be the first name chiseled in granite.' Billboard has observed that Head's versatility actually worked against him since he did not fit into any specific marketing niche. His use of many small record labels also prevented his recordings from achieving national distribution.
Head continues to be active in recording and performing music.
His son Sundance Head was a contestant on season 6 of American Idol. In 2007, Sundance signed a recording contract with Universal Motown Records. In 2016, he was the winner on season 11 of The Voice, mentored by Blake Shelton.
|1965||Roy Head and the Traits||TNT|
|Treat Me Right||122||Scepter|
|A Head of His Time||45|
|1978||Tonight's the Night|
|1979||In Our Room||Elektra|
|1980||The Many Sides of Roy Head|
|1985||Living For A Song|
|1965||"Treat Her Right"||2||8||14||Roy Head and the Traits|
|"Just a Little Bit"||39||18|
|"Apple of My Eye"||32||51|
|"Wigglin' and Gigglin'"||110||singles only|
|"To Make a Big Man Cry"||95|
|1967||"Nobody But Me"|
|"Got Down on Saturday (Sunday in the Rain)"|
|"A Good Man Is Hard to Find"|
|"Ain't Goin' Down Right"|
|1971||"Puff of Smoke"||96|
|1974||"Baby's Not Home"||66|
|1975||"The Most Wanted Woman in Town"||19||7||Head First|
|"Help Yourself to Me"||47||single only|
|"I'll Take It"||55||Head First|
|1976||"The Door I Used to Close"||28|
|"Bridge for Crawling Back"||50|
|"One Night"||51||A Head of His Time|
|1977||"Angel with a Broken Wing"||57|
|"Come to Me"||16||9||Tonight's the Night|
|1978||"Now You See 'Em, Now You Don't"||19|
|"Tonight's the Night (It's Gonna Be Alright)"||28||17|
|1979||"Kiss You and Make It Better"||74||single only|
|"In Our Room"||79||In Our Room|
|1980||"The Fire of Two Old Flames"||65|
|"Long Drop"||59||single only|
|"Drinkin' Them Long Necks"||70||The Many Sides of Roy Head|
|"I've Never Gone to Bed with an Ugly Woman"|
|1981||"After Texas"||75||singles only|
|1982||"Play Another Gettin' Drunk and
Take Somebody Home Song"
|"The Trouble with Hearts"||64|
|1983||"Your Mama Don't Dance"||85|
|"Where Did He Go Right"||79|
|1985||"Break Out the Good Stuff"||93|
Billy Joe "B.J." Thomas (born August 7, 1942) is an American popular singer. He is particularly known for his hit songs of the 1960s and 1970s, which appeared on the pop, country, and Christian music charts. His best-known recordings are the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" and the original version of the Mark James song "Hooked on a Feeling".Back Beat Records
Back Beat Records was an American record label launched in 1957 as the Houston-based soul sub-label of Duke Records, when it was run by Don Robey. Back Beat was acquired by ABC Records on May 23, 1973. The label's biggest hits included "Treat Her Right" by Roy Head & The Traits, "Tell Me Why" by Norman Fox & The Rob-Roys and "Everlasting Love" by Carl Carlton. The last of these was the title cut of an album intended to be issued on Back Beat in December 1974, but ABC ended up issuing the album on their main label, as they had discontinued Back Beat at the last minute.There are many records from Back Beat that found fame but not fortune, as the records are part of the underground movement known as Northern Soul. Carl Carlton probably recorded the most tracks that fall into the Northern Soul sound.Copy Cats (album)
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Dallas Frazier (born October 27, 1939) is an American country musician and songwriter who had success in the 1950s and 1960s.Don Robey
Don Deadric Robey (November 1, 1903 – June 16, 1975) was an American record label executive, songwriter, and record producer. As the founder of Peacock Records and the eventual owner of Duke Records, he was responsible for developing the careers of many rhythm and blues artists in the 1950s and 1960s.
He was notorious for his controversial business practices; he reputedly used criminal means, including violence and intimidation, as part of his business model, though he was held in high regard by some of the musicians who worked for him. He was credited with writing or co-writing many of the songs recorded by Duke/Peacock artists, either under his real name, or under the pseudonym of Deadric Malone. However in many cases, he was merely a publisher and was not involved in the writing. Many other label owners paid little for songs and controlled the publishing, but Robey was one of the few to disguise the real writers, making it nearly impossible to assess who wrote what on Duke, Peacock, Backbeat, and his other labels.Dot Records
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Gold Star Records is an American independent record label, which was founded in 1941.Got My Mojo Working
"Got My Mojo Working" is a blues song written by Preston "Red" Foster and first recorded by Ann Cole in 1956. Muddy Waters popularized it in 1957 and the song was a feature of his performances throughout his career. A mojo is an amulet or talisman associated with hoodoo, an early African-American folk-magic belief system. Rolling Stone magazine included Waters' rendition of the song on its list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at number 359. In 1999, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave it a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and it is identified on the list of "Songs of the Century".Just a Little Bit (Rosco Gordon song)
"Just a Little Bit" is an R&B-style blues song recorded by Rosco Gordon in 1959. It was a hit in both the R&B and pop charts. Called "one of the standards of contemporary blues," "Just a Little Bit" has been recorded by various other artists, including Little Milton and Roy Head, who also had record chart successes with the song.List of artists who have covered Van Morrison songs
Van Morrison (born George Ivan Morrison on August 31, 1945) is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter who has been a professional musician since 1960. He has won six Grammy awards and was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2003. Morrison began to write and record his first original songs while frontman for the band Them and in the years since has written hundreds of songs, many of them covered by popular and major artists.
In 2012, Paste compiled a list of covers by Glen Hansard, Jeff Buckley, The Doors, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Elvis Costello, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Michael Bublé, Sinéad O'Connor and Bruce Springsteen as their pick of the 10 Best Covers of Van Morrison Songs.This article is a selective list of prominent musicians or entertainers who have recorded their own version of a song which Van Morrison originally wrote and recorded. There are also some notable or frequently performed live versions included.Ray Sharpe
Edward Ray Sharpe (born February 8, 1938) is an American R&B and rockabilly singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Many of his recordings, including his best-known, "Linda Lu", are sometimes classed as rockabilly – he was described by one record producer as "the greatest white-sounding black dude ever".Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Sharpe grew up influenced by country as well as blues music. He learned guitar, influenced by Chuck Berry records, and in 1956 formed his own trio, Ray Sharpe and the Blues Whalers, with Raydell Reese (piano) and Cornelius Bell (drums), and they became popular playing rock and roll in Fort Worth clubs. His recording career started in Phoenix, Arizona in April 1958, when Lee Hazlewood produced his single, "That's the Way I Feel" / "Oh, My Baby's Gone".
His second record, "Linda Lu" / "Monkey's Uncle" – both sides written by Sharpe, produced by Hazlewood, and featuring Duane Eddy and Sharpe on guitar, Al Casey on rhythm guitar – was much more successful. Recorded in May 1959, it reached No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. Following its success, Sharpe appeared on American Bandstand and toured with a Dick Clark rock and roll package that also included LaVern Baker, Duane Eddy and The Coasters. "Linda Lu" has subsequently been covered by many artists, including the Rolling Stones, The Kingsmen, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Flying Burrito Brothers, and Tom Jones.
Subsequent single releases on a variety of record labels, including Hazlewood's own Trey label, were less successful. These included recordings made in 1966 with King Curtis, which featured Jimi Hendrix on guitar. However, Sharpe's songs have been recorded by acts ranging from Roy Head and the Traits to Neil Young and J. B. Hutto, and he has continued to release records, as well as performing regularly in the Fort Worth area.San Marcos, Texas
San Marcos ( SAN MAR-kəs) is a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos metropolitan area. It is on the Interstate 35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio and is the seat of Hays County. Its limits extend into Caldwell and Guadalupe counties, as well. Its population was 44,894 at the 2010 census and was an estimated 61,980 in 2016.Founded on the banks of the San Marcos River, the area is thought to be among the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the Americas. San Marcos is home to Texas State University and the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.In 2010, San Marcos was listed in Business Week's fourth annual survey of the "Best Places to Raise your Kids". In 2013 and 2014, the United States Census Bureau named it the fastest-growing city in the United States. In December 2013, it was named #9 on Business Insider's list of the "10 Most Exciting Small Cities In America".Scepter Records
Scepter Records is an American record company founded in 1959 by Florence Greenberg.She's About a Mover
She's About a Mover is a 1965 song by the Sir Douglas Quintet. and was quickly covered by several other artists. The song has a 12-bar blues structure, and is structured in a similar manner to The Beatles' "She's A Woman", Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Can I Get a Witness" and Ray Charles' "What'd I Say".This was one of the many hits recorded at a studio that was known in the 60's as Gold Star Studios (this was also a different studio from the other studio under the same name based in LA) that later became known as Sugar Hill Studios located in Houston Texas. Other hits recorded in this same studio included "Treat Her Right" by Roy Head & the Traits and "Funny" by Joe Hinton and "Turn On Your Love Light" by Bobby "Blue" Bland.
The song was named the number one 'Texas' song by Texas Monthly, also charting at #15 on the UK Singles Chart. With a Vox Continental organ riff provided by Augie Meyers and a soulful vocal by lead singer-guitarist Doug Sahm, the track has a Tex-Mex sound. The regional smash became a breakaway hit, and the recording was used in the soundtracks of the films Echo Park (1986), American Boyfriends (1989), The Doors (1991), Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), Sorority Boys (2002), and Beautiful Darling (2010).In 1983, the song appeared on Ringo Starr's ninth album Old Wave.SugarHill Recording Studios
SugarHill Recording Studios is a recording studio in Houston, Texas. The studio was important in launching the careers of such artists as Lightnin' Hopkins, The Big Bopper, George Jones, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Roy Head, and Freddy Fender. It is renowned for its collection of vintage recording equipment, reverb chamber rooms, EMT plates and a long history of music. A landmark in the Houston music community, SugarHill celebrated its 69th year of operation in October 2011.
Founded in October 1941 by Bill Quinn under the name Quinn Recording, it is the oldest continuously operating studio in the United States. In 1950 Quinn changed the name of the studio to Gold Star Studios. Huey P Meaux took control in the early 1970s, and gave the studio its current name.Sundance Head
Jason "Sundance" Head, from Porter, Texas) is an American country-soul singer and songwriter. He is the son of American singer Roy Head. In 2007, he was a semi-finalist on the sixth season of the Fox television series American Idol, but was eliminated one week before the finals. In 2016, he became the winner of season 11 of the US The Voice. He was part of Team Blake Shelton. His winning song is "Darlin' Don't Go". In 2018 he signed onto Dean Dillon's "Wildcatter Records.Treat Her Right (Roy Head song)
"Treat Her Right" is a soul music song, with a standard twelve-bar-blues structure. Written by Roy Head and Gene Kurtz, it was recorded by Head and The Traits and released on the Back Beat label in 1965. The song reached number two in the United States on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts. The Beatles' "Yesterday" kept "Treat Her Right" from the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Members of the Traits on this record included Johnny Clark on lead guitar, Frank Miller on Rhythm Guitar, Gene Kurtz on bass, Dan Buie on keyboards, Danny Gomez and Tommy May on tenor sax, Johnny Gibson on trumpet, and Jerry Gibson on drums.
In 1965 the band signed with producer Huey Meaux of Houston, who maintained a stable of record labels. "Treat Her Right" was recorded at Gold Star Studios (later known as SugarHill Recording Studios) in Houston. Issued on Don Robey's (Nov. 1, 1903 - June 16, 1975) Back Beat label, it reached #2 on both the U.S. Pop and R&B charts in 1965, behind The Beatles' "Yesterday. "Treat Her Right", with its blazing horns and punchy rhythm, credited to Head and bass man Gene Kurtz, established Head as a prime exponent of blue-eyed soul. By 1995 "Treat Her Right" had been covered by as many as 20 nationally known recording artists including the Yardbirds/Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bon Jovi, British blue-eyed soul vocalist Chris Farlowe (under the title "Treat Her Good") and both Mae West and Barbara Mandrell under the title of "Treat Him Right". Even Bob Dylan, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones covered it "live."
Roy Head and the Traits "Just a Little Bit" and the bluesy-rockabilly hybrid, "Apple Of My Eye" also cracked the Top 40 in 1965. However, those were only minor hits in the wake of "Treat Her Right", which is estimated to have sold over four million copies worldwide, and was a featured song, along with Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" and Steve Cropper's "In the Midnight Hour", in the successful 1991 motion picture, The Commitments.You Better Move On
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