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Tommy Blake

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Rockabilly artist Tommy Blake, like so many before him, started his career as a straight-ahead country singer before making the switch to the big beat. Born and raised in Shreveport, LA, Blake (born Thomas Givens) was already working in a teenage combo playing country music at station KTBS in the early ’50s. By 1955, he had graduated to the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, TX, and Shreveport’s junior version of the Opry, the Louisiana Hayride. A year later, he was a regular member of Johnny Horton’s TV show out of Tyler, TX, and had cut his first record for the tiny Buddy label out of Marshall, TX. By 1957, Blake had put together his first great band, the Rhythm Rebels, featuring the red-hot guitar talents of one Carl Adams, who would later find fleeting fame with Dale Hawkins.

After a one-off session for RCA Victor, yielding a track called “All Night Long,” Blake met Sam Phillips and re-recorded the same tune for Sun as “Lordy Hoody.” By March of 1958, Blake was back at 706 Union recording more material, with another single seeing release and the rest finding its way into rockabilly history via reissues in the 1970s and ’80s. Blake kept recording for smaller and smaller labels, pitching songs to anyone who had a ready advance, leaving “Story of a Broken Heart” for Johnny Cash to record after Blake had left Sun. He continued to write tunes, like “Cool Gator Shoes” with Carl Belew, and record a few stray 45s for Chancellor and Recco after his time with Sun, but Blake continued a downward spiral until he was killed by his wife in a domestic dispute over the Christmas holidays in 1985. ~ Cub Koda, All Music Guide

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