Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.

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• Massive update on Blake Records. Thanks to Eric from Goner Records (Memphis, TN)!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Blake Records story

John Cook's Blake Records
A Memphis Country, Bluegrass and Gospel label

498 Lundee Street in Memphis in September 2011, where
John Cook would first operate Blake Records from.

The Cooks probably moved to 3291 Park Avenue later.

The Blake record label out of Memphis, Tennessee, has never been spotlighted in its full glory. Though the label has an extensive discography that could take years to research in detail, the label's history has been largely obscure since its demise sometimes in the 1970s.

Blake was founded by John Cook, a country and gospel musician originally from Arkansas. Similar to Arlen and Jackie Vaden from Trumann, Arkansas, Cook and his wife Margie would sing harmony gospel duets on radio and also made the occassional record during their career. John was born and raised in Cord, Arkansas, a small town about 20 miles east of Batesville and 25 miles north of Newport. He came from a musical family and started playing guitar and singing at the age of ten. He met his future wife Margie at a camp meeting and married her three months later. Margie hailed from Melbourne, Arkansas, and was also born into a musical inclined family. Together, they began to sing gospel and country duets with John on guitar as well as vocals and Margie joining him.

The Cooks began their professional career in 1947 on the radio. They soon appeared on different stations, including border town stations like XEG (Fort Worth, Texas), XERF (Del Rio, Texas), XERB (San Diego, California) and also did a couple of TV appearances. Probably their first recording was released in either late 1958 or early 1959 on the Volunteer label. A Starday custom press, it featured two of the couple's originals, "The Love I Have for You" / "Do I Have to Stay Alone" (Volunteer #737), credited to "John and Margie Cook and the White River Boys." The name of the band drew probably from the White River in Arkansas, which is located south of Cord and west of Melbourne. The label already showed a Memphis adress (1745 Lamar Avenue), so the Cooks likely lived in Memphis at that time.

Another record of John and Margie appeared in 1965 on the Dot label, coupling "River of Love" b/w "I'll Take Down Your Shingle." It was around that time that John founded Blake Records in Memphis. The initial release on the label had Hershel Jeanes, accompanied by Dotye Dee and her Rhythmaires, with "Let Me Start with You" b/w "Guess Tonight I'll Make the Bars Downtown" (Blake #2-200). Interestingly, this very first release had a completely different, simpler, label design than waht would follow. Jeanes had a second single out with Dee on Zone as well as further releases on Blake. Dee also recorded for Yesteryear Records in her own right. Billboard reported in January 1965, that Jeanes and Dee took part in a benefit show that was held at the Linden Circle Theater (then known as the "Mid-South Opry House"). Other artists included Eddie Bond, Roland Eaton, the Davis Brothers among others. Jim Wells acted as the show's emcee.

The next known release on Blake was by Roland Eaton, "Married in Church" b/w "My Baby Walks All Over Me" (Blake #2-202). Eaton was a country singer from Arkanas. Born in 1935 in Ravenden, Northeast Arkansas, he was the emcee of the Mid-South Jamboree in the 1960s, appeared with Gene Williams' Country Junction show in 1968 and also had his own show on KAIT in the late 1960s. He would go on to record for Capitol 1968-1971 but later quit the music business.

Roland Eaton during an appearance on Ernest Tubb's
Midnight Jamboree in June 1967.

However, a release date for neither Jeanes' nor Eaton's single is not known. It is Sue Simpson's "The Great Tornado" (Blake #2-216) which can be dated as 1966; all releases prior to her single have to be issued around 1965/1966. Due to missing reliable sources such as Billboard reviews or matrix numbers, it is difficult to date early releases on Blake. By 1970, John Cook was using Precision's pressing plant in Nashville, which makes it easier to estimate the release dates because of the plant's matrix code.

John and Margie also released their own recordings on Blake. The first was "Till You Come Home" / "You Were Not Around" on Blake #2-211. During the next years, they would cut another five records plus an entire album. Early Blake labels show 498 Lundee Street in Memphis as adress but soon after, the label would move to 3291 Park Avenue (as seen on Blake #2-215). Both streets are located in residential zones, thus it is likely John ran the label from their home. It is also likely he didn't operate his own studio but rented other facilities in Memphis. In any event, the business seems to have been more a custom label than a professional record business. Nevertheless, Cook had his own publishing firm "John Cook Music" (whereby most of the recorded material was published) as well as another label, Marble Hill Records, which came into existence in 1968. According to Colin Escott, Marble Hill was co-owned by Memphis singer Howard Chandler, who also had the debut release on the label.

The label's output was similar to what John and Margie were singing: gospel, bluegrass, country, and some upbeat country music thrown in from time to time. There were at least 119 45rpm records on Blake and the Cook's album. The last documented activity of Blake was a short Billboard mention in its November 18, 1972, issue, describing Blake as "one of the mainstays in country in Memphis." The last known single is "Yesterdays, Darling, are Gone" b/w "One You Left So Blue" by Paulette Cruzon (Blake #2-319).

John and Margie, however, had another record out in the 1970s on the Sardis label, "I'll Take Down Your Shingle" / "River of Love" (Sardis #5 5716). The picture sleeve of the record stated it was recorded at Arthur Smith's studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, so this was possibly a re-recording of their earlier Dot single. 

John Cook died in 1983 and was buried at Memorial Hill Gardens in Memphis. By the time of his passing, the Cooks lived in West Memphis, Arkansas.


 Discography


Release dates are estimated from pressing plant matrix numbers and stampers on record labels.

2-200: Hershel Jeanes - Let Me Start with You / Guess Tonight I'll Make the Bars Downtown
2-201: John & Margie Cook - Oh God, Please Bring My Daddy Back / Cabin in the Mountain
2-202: Roland Eaton – Married in Church / My Baby Walks All Over Me
2-203: Paul Cecil – Brink of Tears / Melba from Melbourne
2-204: Wayne Raney – I'm in Love /My Beautiful Bouquet
2-205: Ray Arnold – Blues in My Heart / Ballad of Lefty Bill
2-206: Glen Chandler – Soft Lips / Heart Breaker
2-207: Don Osment – Honky Tonk & Booze / ?
2-208: Clyde & Marie Denney - Little Kentucky Mountain Home / Johnny's Breakdown
2-209: Wilma New – It’s Too Late Now / Wilma New / Mack Self – It’s Time to Cry
2-210: Bud & Joyce Murry – I'm Stuck in Jackson / Joyce Murry – I'll Keep on Loving You
2-211: John & Margie Cook - Till You Come Home / You Were Not Around
2-212: Audrey Maupin - God Calls His Children Each By Name / Precious Lord
2-213: Clyde & Mary Denney with Blue Grass Mountain Boys – What’s Wrong with You, My Darlin / Sally Is a Dandy
2-214: Lloyd Arnold - Million Miles to Nowhere / Time Enough to Die
2-215: Bud and Joyce Murry - Tiny Raindrops / Ain't Gonna Worry
2-216: Sue Simpson – The Great Tornado / ? (1966)
2-217: Hershel Jeanes – Tonight I’ll Join the Crowd / Loves Come Back
2-218: Frank Milam - The Big Ole Jug of Wine / Money in My Pockets (Money in My Shoes)
2-219: Margie Griffin – More Than My Heart Could Understand / Fine Feathers Do Not Make a Fine Bird
2-220: Audrey Laird - Blues in My Heart / Jambalaya (on the Bayou)
2-221: John Daniel - Walk Right Through the Door / I Still Do
2-222: Marlon Grisham - Queen of the City / You're the Rose for Me
2-223: Bobby Joe Boyels - The Wedding Is Over / You're Gonna Hate Yourself
2-224:
2-225: Edith Caviness - I'm Not Here / Too Wet to Plow
2-226: Hershel Jeanes & Dotye Dee – The Gentle Judge / Stronger Than Pride
2-227: John & Margie Cook – Wire My Grave with Country Music / ?
2-228:
2-229: Charlie (Slim) Knight – The Outcast / Money Can’t Buy True Love
2-230: Ray Arnold - The Old Man's Outlook on Life / Why Must Man Love Woman
2-231: Sharon Peel - The Gossip Line / It's All Over Now
2-232: The Peggy Carey Story (Interviewed by Jim Wells) / ?
2-233:
2-234: Ronnie Parnell – I’m a Fool for Loving You / Everything Changes
2-235:
2-236: Joe T Gibson - Meet Me on the Other Side of Town / Arkansas Boy
2-237:
2-238: Sam & Kay Neal - I Can't Feel the Pain / Dear Angel (1971)
2-239: Martin K. Neal, Jr. - Please Forgive Me / I'll Die Ten Thousand Times (1971)
2-240: Babe Sanders – Last Glass of Wine / Ballad of Ma and Pa
2-241 
2-242: Sam & Kay Neal - If I'm Not Here / Etty Bitty Josephine (1971)
2-243:
2-244:
2-245: Hershel Jeanes - Will There Be Beer Joints in Heaven / Just Because
2-246: Clyde & Marie Denney and the Kentuckians - Southbound / Forty Years Ago
2-247: Kay Neal - I'll Take the Stand Tomorrow / Sam & Kay Neal - (Answer to) Hello Darling
2-248: Joe T. Gibson – Team of Mules / Television (1971)
2-249: Ross Lewis - Right As Rain / After I'm Gone
2-250: John Cook - Old Maids Can Love You / A Soldier in Vietnam
2-251: Sam & Kay Neal - My Love Is Gone / We're Gonna Live with Him Someday (1971)
2-252:
2-253: Lloyd Baker - The Song About Jesus / The Endless Time of Eternity
2-254: Sam & Kay Neal - Dozen Red Roses / Sam Neal - Tear Drops in Her Eyes (1971)
2-255: Willie Eiland - Do What You Want to Do / Shoveling (1971)
2-256: Martha Panell – Mister D.J. / Sad Movies
2-257: Sam & Kay Neal - Let's All Party / I've Got a Bobcat By the Tail
2-258: Clyde & Marie Denny and the Kentuckians - Clinging Vine / Ann
2-259: Sam & Kay Neal – They Call Me Orphan / Cold Lonely Heart
2-260: Sam & Kay Neal - I Need You for Real / Springtime in Mississippi
2-261: Sam Neal - Don't Call My Name / Lifetime of Sorrow
2-262: Marion D. Brewer – Too Much to Lose / She’s Been Asking About Me
2-263: Sam & Kay Neal She's an Angel to Me / I'm Disowned
2-264: Sam and Kay Neal - Sweetheart, My Queen / Pay Day on the Country Road
2-265: Alvie Addison, III – Sanlorsa / Never Forget Mama
2-266: Farrell Dunkin - 8 to 12 / I Turned Her Heart to Stone
2-267: Stewart Douglas – Pass Me By / It’s Not Love But It’s Not Bad
2-268: Farrell Dunkin - Me and Loniless / Fire, Wind and Rain
2-269: James “Juicy” Joel – I Bought the Blues / Crying on the Inside
2-270: Billy Joe Mack – Loneliness / Hold Back Tomorrow
2-271: Southern Ramblers – Our Love Has Ended (vocal by Jean Wilkinson) / Letting Her Love Destroy My Mind (vocal by David Seal)
2-272: Jimmy “Red” Wiggins – Don’t Burn the Bridges / The Ache of a Fool
2-273: Ray Mitcham – You’re Welcome Once More / They Say Today’s Thanksgiving
2-274: Ray Mitcham – Wish I Had a Nickel / Winds of Change
2-275:
2-276:
2-277: Ronnie Hughes - Nashville, You Got a Hold on Me / Six Nights in Vegas
2-278: Jimmy "Red" Wiggins – Roadsigns of Your Heart / When I Hear Your Name
2-279:
2-280: John Cook - Corn Stalk Annie / John and the Water Moccasin (1974)
2-281: Sue Neal – The Image of Me / Truck Driver’s Sweetheart
2-282: Sam Higdon - Dear Mr. President / Courage to Try (1974)
2-283: Sue Neal – Our Rig / Only One True Love
2-284:
2-285: Jessey Higdon – Pay Telephone / Polk Salad Time on the Mississippi
2-286: John & Margie Cook – Eight Miles from Home / Because We Cheated
2-287: Gene Stilley – Angels Play Guitars / It’s Hard to Get Up Once You’ve Been Down
2-288: Bud Rateliff – I’m Not Gonna Be Your Fall Guy Any More / You Left a Stain on My Heart
2-289:
2-290: Clinton McKinney - My Only Reason to Stay / I Throwed It All in a U-Haul
2-291: John Cook – John and the School Teacher / Margie Cook – Kiss Me Love
2-292: John Cook - John and the Billygoat / Margie Cook - Sitting in a Bar Room for the First Time
2-293: Farrell Dunkin – Broadway Flower / 8 to 12
2-294: Lisa Adams - Ain't It Good to Be in Love Again / Benny, the Bald Knob Buffalo
2-295: Wilson Brothers – Trail of the Lonesome Pine / Let Me Live One More Time
2-296: Con Brewer – Loving You / Dreams
2-297: Merv Landon - Me and Bobby McGee / Four in the Morning
2-298: Scotty Day – No Pickin in the Corner / What Would I Give
2-299: Gary Abbott – Bar Room Angel / Living in a World of Miseries
2-300: Dee Proctor – As the World Keeps on Turning / Walk with Me
2-301: Scotty Day - Baby I'm Crying / Scotty & Rachel Day - Gonna Jump, Drown or Hang (3 Ways to Go)
2-302:
2-303: John & Margie Cook – Would You Call Jesus Hippie / Mama and Papa
2-304: Sue Neal - Trying to Forget You / Clouds to Glory
2-305:
2-306:
2-307: Jim McKee – She Makes Me Glad That I’m Alive / I’ve Got Heartaches and Trouble on My Mind
2-308: Jim McKee - If It Hadn't Been for You / Yours and Mine
2-309:
2-310:
2-311:
2-312: Joe T. Gibson - I'm the Loving Kind / It Hurts
2-313: Sue Neal - If She Can't Go to You / You'll Be Sorry
2-314:
2-315: Lucille Vandiver - Nestle in the Arms of Jesus / Just Let Me Make It Home Lord
2-316:
2-317: Southern Comfort - A Light in Her Eyes / Let's Talk It Over
2-318:
2-319: Paulette Cruzon – Yesterdays, Darling, Are Gone / One You Left So Blue


Thanks to DrunkenHob, Peter, Jack Hill, Mark C., Eric

14 comments:

DrunkenHobo said...

204 Wayne Raney - I'm In Love / ?
207 Don Osment - Honky Tonk & Booze / ?
216 Sue Simpson - The Great Tornado / ? (1966)
227 John & Margie Cook - Wire My Grave With Country Music / ?

Peter said...

Got one more for you:

278 Jimmy "Red" Wiggins - Roadsigns of your heart / When I hear your name

Mellow said...

Thank you guys for your help!

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JACK HILL said...

I HAVE A BLAKE 2-263. 'SHE'S AN ANGEL TO ME' BY SAM & KAY NEAL AND 'I'M DISOWNED'. THOUGHT YOU MIGHT WANT TO ADD THE TITLE TO YOUR BLAKE DISCOGRAPHY.
JAXGHILL@MSN.COM.

Mark C. said...

2-210 A side
Bud & Joyce Murry
I'm stuck in Jackson

B side
Joyce Murry
I'll keep on loving you

DrunkenHobo said...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HEAR-Bud-Rateliff-Not-Gonna-Be-45-on-BLAKE-Memphis-Country-Honky-Tonker-/121129299207?pt=Music_on_Vinyl&hash=item1c33de6d07 with sound file & label shot

jessy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mcatahoula said...

Thanks Mellow, I was chasing the trail of "Hellbound Train" by Marie Roberson on Marble Hill (it's Halloween seems like a nice diversion) and it led here. There seems to be a lot of Howard Chandler on Marble Hill for sale on E Bay so I can see him being a part owner in the label. Good info, like the pictures

Mellow said...

Thanks for the kind words. And yes, there are a lot of Howard Chandler releases on the label. I am also working on a Marble Hill discography!

Anonymous said...

Hello - I have a 45 on the Blake Records label by Merv Landon - "Me and Bobby McGee" and "Four In the Morning" - No. 2-297. Wayne

Anonymous said...

I'm going to place Blake Records #2-297 on eBay this evening. Thanks, Wayne

DrunkenHobo said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-PosfIkBxw Honky Tonks & Booze

Anonymous said...

I have the LP John and Margie Cook "Too Late To Pray" LP-1-100.