Zeb Turner – Chew Tobacco Rag

3rd January 2022 · 1950s, 1951, Country, Music, Rockabilly

Hillbilly boogie was a postwar hybrid popularised by white folk in the South and evolved into rockabilly in the mid-1950s.

A fusion of old-time country music and jump blues, one of its prime exponents was the little-known William Edward Grimshaw, who renamed himself after one of his favourite songs, a tune called The Zeb Turner Stomp.

A songwriter and guitarist from Lynchburg, Virginia, the newly christened Zeb performed with his brother James, who also adopted a more exotic stage name – Zeke Turner – and the duo backed artists like Hank Williams and Red Foley in the late 1940s.

Zeb also wrote It’s A Sin (no, not that one), a number one country hit for Eddy Arnold in 1947, and another much-covered standard called Texas In My Soul, but I like his solo recordings from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

His slender repertoire includes Travellin’ Boogie, Tennessee Boogie, Chattanooga Boogie and Huckleberry Boogie…. like Marc Bolan a quarter of a century later, Zeb evidently loved to boogie.

He also recorded a proto-rock’n’roll tune Jersey Rock in 1953 before retiring from recording and becoming a radio DJ. I prefer the more old-timey vibe of this one, Chew Tobacco Rag from two years earlier.