Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Seen any dead country stars recently?

More song-poem lunacy; it's a bottomless pit I'm mining here!
I don't know where to start. Is it the virtually comatose singer, the horrendously out of tune stringed instrument plinking away (what is that? An autoharp? A toy steel guitar?) or the shoddy production values that make this such a corker?
Found and purchased recently on eBay during one of my (seemingly endless, often fruitless and occasionally pointless) searches for more song-poem releases, I Saw Jim Reeves Up There appeared on Blu-J records some time in the early/mid 60's I'd guess: Gentleman Jim died in '64, and I would assume that this arrived not long after.
I've been unable to find out anything about the Country Swingers. There are literally dozens of groups out there with the same name and I feel it's safe to assume that the epithet was applied to a bunch of session musos rather than a touring outfit. However Chaw Mank, a name splashed all over the label, is another matter altogether.
Charles "Chaw" Mank Jr. was a songwriter, band leader, silent movie organist, radio host, psychic and fan club operator amongst other things. He was also the co-author of Valentino, the book which inspired the Rudolf Nureyev movie. Oh, and he was a song-poem pioneer too!
Born in Staunton, Illinois (where Blu-J Records was later based), he served as pianist in the Fred Weidner Orchestra, later starting his own group, Chaw Mank's Blue Ribbon Dance Band, who cut several of their own records. He was a prolific songwriter, one of his biggest hits bring Bringing Mary Home, co-written with Joe Kingston and John Duffey and subsequently recorded by the Country Gentlemen, Red Sovine and Ricky Skaggs.
You can read more about his incredible life at:
But, for now, all we're interested in is his time spent running the Blu-J company, part, it appears, of a much larger outfit Jay-Cher Enterprises of Georgia and affiliated with song-shark supremos Globe Recording Studios (the home of the great Sammy Marshall). It's from that period that we present, for your enjoyment I Saw Jim Reeves Up There.


  1. Or, even better, that it was released in 1963. Where's Derek?

  2. The above link on Chaw Mank is no longer valid. My new, improved article on Mr. Mank is now at Quazen.

    Look for it here: http://quazen.com/reference/biography/chaw-mank-worlds-champion-movie-fan/

  3. Thanks Darryl for turning me onto Chaw Mank and also to William for updating the link to your informative page on this most interesting character. I also note that a good link for your Mank bio is at http://www.bukisa.com/articles/256145_staunton-illinois-chaw-mank-songwriter-bandleader-and-fan-club-pioneer this seems to havemore text and better pictures.
    Cheers John


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