Clifford Curry - She Shot A Hole In My Soul (Elf 90002)
She Shot A Hole In My Soul
...continued from The B Side.
Clifford Curry grew up in Knoxville, about two hours east of Music City. While still in high school, he joined a vocal group called The Echoes. Heading out to seek their fortune in 1955, they signed with Savoy Records up in Newark, New Jersey. The label renamed the group The Five Pennies, and a song Curry wrote for them, Mr. Moon, became a minor hit in early 1956. After one more single, he quit and headed back to Knoxville. Clifford formed another vocal group at this point, and christened them The Bingos. They signed with Nasco, a subsidiary of Nashboro/Excello, at this point, and the label changed their name yet again to The Hollyhocks. Their lone release died on the vine.
Moving him to their primary imprint, the label decided to record him as a a solo artist, calling him Sweet Clifford. Whether he was sweet or not, the Excello releases didn't do much, and Curry moved around a bit, taking work wherever he could get it, appearing as the lead vocalist with outfits like The Bubba Suggs Band, The Contenders, and The Fabulous Six for a variety of small labels. Gayden heard Sweet Clifford performing out on the fraternity circuit and, once again, brought him to the attention of Buzz Cason. Viewed as a perfect fit for the new label, Buzz signed him to Elf straightaway.
As the story goes, Mac Gayden's friend Chuck Neese heard a DeeJay on WVON mention that some song or other 'put a hole in his soul', and told Mac about it, planting the seed for this amazing record we have here today. I can't help but wonder if what really happened was that Neese heard them play the great Potato Salad Part One by Philadelphia Jock Georgie Woods (The Guy With The Goods), in which he admonishes his listeners to never eat chicken on Sunday, as it will 'put a hole in your soul...'
Be that as it may, Cason's production of this Gayden composition is simply untouchable, and is one of the hottest R&B records to emanate from Nashville in the 1960s, in my opinion. I'm lovin' Clifford's 'Help Me Somebody!' there, right before Mac kicks in with an early example of the 'slide-wah' style that he would later lend to records like J.J. Cale's Crazy Mama. Great Stuff, y'all! That's Gayden on the right in the picture up above, with Wade Conklin on bass and Buzz Cason on the tambourine there in the middle, backing up Curry at an outdoor gig in Nashville shortly after this record came out. It would make #45 R&B, and become a huge favorite on the 'beach music' scene down in the Carolinas, where Curry still makes a living off of it, appearing regularly at clubs throughout the region.
Seven more Clifford Curry releases on Elf failed to sell much, and although the label would produce some coveted deep soul records like Cry, Baby, Cry by Van & Titus (which you can go listen to over at Sir Shambling's place), by the end of the decade it was little more than an outlet for an occasional single by Cason or Bobby Russell themselves. After Russell hit big, with two of his compositions Honey and Little Green Apples bringing in the big bucks for Russell-Cason Music in 1968, he moved on, and both Rising Sons and Elf became history.
Mac Gayden, as we've seen, would go on to become one of John Richbourg's 'Music City Four', playing on those great Sound Stage 7 records we all love, and was in demand as a 'go-to' session guitarist on Music Row for years. He was also a founding member of both Barefoot Jerry and Area Code 615, the influential Nashville 'country-rock' bands.
Buzz Cason went on to open his own respected studio, The Creative Workshop, in 1970, and remains involved in all aspects of the Music City recording scene. His great book Living The Rock 'n Roll Dream: The Adventures of Buzz Cason is well worth checking out, and is where I got most of this information from in the first place.