Curtis Gordon – Rompin’ And Stompin’1st March 2022 · 1950s, 1953, Country, Music, Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly
Here’s a song by one of rockabilly’s revered elder statesmen that just makes you want to get up and dance, whatever music you like.
Curtis Gordon’s youthful style when he started in the early 1950s straddled the gap between rock’n’roll, Western swing and country music – hence the album title, Swingbillies.
In that postwar period between 1945 and 1955 when black musicians were evolving jump blues and jazz into R&B, white folk were undergoing a similar transformation.
Hillbilly and country music had already merged with jazz to make Western swing, and rockabilly sprang from the resulting fusion: the bouncy beat embroidered with fiddles and steel guitar.
Curtis Gordon became one of the most enduring and beloved rockabilly artists of the 1950s but never got the recognition he deserves as a true crossover artist between country, Western swing, and rockabilly.
He grew up listening to Ernest Tubb and Bob Wills on the radio, as well as old records by Jimmie Rodgers, and quickly developed his own aspirations as a singer, winning a local radio talent show while still at school.
At the age of 21 he put together his own Western swing band and worked the area around the Georgia-Florida border.
His sound was a unique amalgam of styles like honky tonk and Western swing – equal parts Hank Thompson and Ernest Tubb, moving from ballads towards livelier tunes like this.
He shared the bill several times with Elvis while playing shows in the South during 1954 and 1955 and these new”rhythm numbers” rubbed off on him.
Gordon should have been huge, appealing across generational lines to country listeners and the kids listening to Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins.
Alas, he never had a single hit: Gordon just never managed to be in the right place with the right record at the right moment but made a decent living playing locally in Mobile, Alabama, where he had a solid and very loyal audience and owned a very popular club.
Gordon saw some of his songs do well with other artists (George Jones recorded I’ve Aged Twenty Years in Five) and he had a flicker of fame during the UK’s rockabilly revival.