Slotting in quite nicely after last week’s Joe Meek selection, today’s offering – Headin’ for Armageddon – comes from the late Willis Meyers. A pretty naïve and rather stupid record about how only Jebus’s dad can save the world from nuclear holocaust, it’s enlivened no end by the ridiculous, sub-Meek bleeps, no doubt pasted on in post-production to simulate the sound of the world coming to an end.
Willis M. Meyers (1911-1989), was a Country and Western ‘entertainer’, better known for his regular appearances on local radio than for his recorded output. Playing guitar and singing with his band, Willis Meyers and the Bar-X Ranch Boys, he could be heard on WSAN radio (Allentown, Pennsylvania) every Saturday in the late 1930s - by the mid 40s the band could also be heard on rival Pennsylvania stations WEEU and WNAR as well - and the group were a popular act at local fairs, schools and carnivals for many years. Apparently at some point Meyers, who also appeared on WSAN with the rather wonderfully-named Bunkhouse Al, had picked up the odd nickname ‘the double yodelling cowboy’, although I can only guess why.
Willis was married for over five decades to Mabel (nee Musselman), who often accompanied her husband on vocals; the pair celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary just a month before his death. In addition to entertaining Willis had been a drill press operator for the U.S. Gauge Division of Ametek Inc (an international company making electric motors and electronic instruments) from 1939 until retiring in 1976.
Headin’ for Armageddon and its dull B-side were put out by the Arzee Record Co of Philadelphia, owned by singer and songwriter Rex Zario (R-Z) who was born Rosario Lefavi in Italy in 1925. Zario, who passed away in 1991, had enjoyed a local hit in 1956 with Go Man Go, Get Gone, which he revamped six years later to cash in on the dance craze as Go Man Go, And Twist.
Interestingly, the track was co-written by James E Myers – the co-writer of Rock Around the Clock: Meyers and Myers do not appear to have been related. However Meyers and his group were signed to, and cut several sides for, Cowboy Records in 1947, the same label that Bill Haley and his early band The 4 Aces of Western Swing were signed to. He also authored the Willis Meyers Family Hymn Book: 31 Hymns Arranged Especially for Quartets and Soloists in 1954.