Category Archives: Mississippi

Billy Stephens on Kidd Glove

Billy Stephens and the Nashville Cats Kidd Glove 45 Baby You Got MeBilly Stephens seems to have been based in Belmont, Mississippi, about 45 miles north east of Tupelo, and three hours southwest of Nashville. According to a comment online, he died at age 55, which would be sometime around the year 2000. I can find no obituary or biography, but here is what I know:

Billy Stephens registered two songs in June 1963, the intriguingly-titled “Rice Paddies” and “I Need Wanda”. Unfortunately, neither seem to have been released. I wonder if demo acetates exist of these songs.

Starting around 1966, he did release three singles of excellent original songs on his own Kidd Glove label.

The first was Kidd Glove 101, credited to Billy Stephens & the Nashville Casts. One side was the amazingly brooding “Baby You Got Me” while the flip is the country “Lumber Jack”. “Baby You Got Me” almost defies description, not exactly garage and really has to be heard.

I’m not sure of the date for this one, the NRC # 510 indicates pressing at National Recording Corporation’s plant in Atlanta, sometime between late 1966 to mid 1967.

Next he released an excellent instrumental, “Sneak Attack” backed with one I haven’t heard yet, “Shirley”, on Kidd Glove 301 with a redesigned label and motto, “The Sound That Leaves You Breathless”.

Billy Stephens Kidd Glove PS Dozen Diamond ManThe third single was the rockabilly “Dozen Diamond Man” b/w an offbeat harmony jangler, “There’s a Time” on Kidd Glove 302. Lyrics for “There’s a Time” are hard to make out, but seem to be about how his teenage queen got locked up “they took her far away, said she had to pay”. This single was released in 1967 with a b&w photo sleeve.

All of his songs were published by Kidd Glove Music BMI, though I can’t find registrations for all of them.

Certainly this was an artist with a lot of talent and originality.

The Cavaliers


The Cavaliers in 1982 rehearsing for their 15th class reunion
from left: Leslie Landrum, Tim Poole, John Burk, Elmo Peeler, Charlie Davis and Spencer Sanders
The Cavaliers from Mississippi released only one 45 under their own name, “Looking for Love” / “You Better Move On” on the Spot Light label in May 1966. “You Better Move On” is the Arthur Alexander song that the Rolling Stones covered. I particularly like their performance on “Looking for Love,” an original credited to simply ‘Freeman’.

Their version of “You Better Move On” was picked up for release by Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label with a new group name, as the Moving Violations (catchy, right?). The flip was a different song for this release, “In the Deep Blue Sea”, written by Thomas, Mcree and Thomas. Production is by Huey Meaux, who passed away last month.

The Cavaliers also had an unreleased song from these sessions, “Girl Why Can’t You Understand”, that is excellent.


Tim Poole, Les Landrum, Gary Barnett and John Burk

Some of the Cavaliers on the Gulf Coast with first manager Avon Frost
from bottom left: Avon Frost with Les Landrum on his shoulders, Elmo Peeler, center, Charlie Davis with Tim Poole on his shoulders.
I have to thank the Cavaliers’ drummer Charlie Davis for sending these songs to me and giving me the info about the group below:

I was in a band called “The Cavaliers” from Kosciusko, MS:

John Burk – vocals
Les Landrum – lead guitar
Tim Poole – rhythm guitar and bass
Elmo Peeler – keyboards
Gary Barnett – bass guitar
Spencer Sanders – rhythm guitar and vocals
Charlie Davis – drums

Les Landrum formed the group in ’63. We started out as a four-piece band playing instrumentals like “You Can’t Sit Down” and mainly influenced by The Ventures, “Walk Don’t Run”, etc. We broke up in 1967 when we graduated from high school and all went to different colleges. Of course we had added a main singer and keyboards during that time. In 1966 Spencer Sanders joined the group replacing Gary Barnett. Tim Poole then switched to bass guitar and Spencer played rhythm guitar and added vocals and harmony.

We mainly played in and around Mississippi during that time, alot on our Gulf Coast (Biloxi & Gulfport). The only out of state gig I can remember was for a LSU fraternity party in Baton Rouge, LA.

The record came about after we recorded a couple of songs written by our singer, John Burk as demos. We were then asked to record “Looking for Love” written by one of the owners of the studio in Jackson, MS. We played a lot of Animal tunes and Rolling Stones so the flip side was our version of the one put out on an album by The Rolling Stones, “You Better Move On”.

The record was first distributed on the Spot Light label and later on SSS International label (Shelby Singleton) where they changed our name to The Moving Violations. It never made the charts but I think got play on the Chicago AM station WLS.

In 1982 we got back together, practiced for a week, and played for our 15 year class reunion.

Elmo Peeler who played the Hammond organ went on to play with such notable artist as The Beach Boys, Rod Stewart, Ricky Nelson and The Sweet Inspirations. Although he never toured with them, he also played on CD’s by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

I also played drums on the session with The Ravin’ Blue … “Love” and “It’s Not Real”.

Charlie Davis


Charlie Davis, Elmo Peeler and Tim Poole


Charlie Davis at the Neshoba County Fair

Les Landrum, lead guitar

Les Landrum and Tim Poole

John Burk, Gary Barnett and Charlie Davis
Charlie Davis also created this video below, featuring “Girl Why Can’t You Understand” accompanied by some of the photos seen here:

Charlie Davis at the Neshoba County Fair

Charlie Davis

Tim Poole and Les Landrum

Tim Poole, Les Landrum, John Burk and Gary Barnett

The Riviaires

Riviaires Steck 45 Bad GirlYou could hardly find a 45 that defines ‘amateur’ better than this one by the Riviaires. That’s not to criticize – this duo of Wattsy Watts and Bill Latham are well-rehearsed. Sure the singing is off key and nasal, but the drummer’s precise and they don’t lack self-confidence!

I assume that’s ‘Wattsy’ on amplified acoustic guitar and vocals because he’s also the songwriter for both sides, which would make Bill the percussionist, but I could be wrong. They were maybe pushing fourteen at the time of recording. Released on Steck Records, Oxford, Mississippi.

I’m not sure how they got their timing info for the labels – “Bad Girl” is listed at 2:48 but runs close to 30 seconds less, and “Sticks” is clocked at 2:51, but actually runs only 1:39. Maybe we’re meant to play the single at some in-between speed, like 37.5 rpm!

The Ravin’ Blue

The Ravin’ Blue recorded two 45s in Nashville for producer Jack Clement and the Monument label.

Lead guitarist Bob Bernard wrote their best side, “It’s Not Real” and co-wrote “Love” with band members Art Christopher and Larry Nix. Art Christopher Jr. wrote the top side of their second record, the more pop-flavored “Colors” which was backed with “In My Sorrow”.

Neither record seems to have done very well, though their first received a release in Germany, France and Italy, and “Colors” also had a German release with a rare picture sleeve of the band.

I hadn’t been able to find out much about the group until I heard from Charlie Davis, drummer of the Cavaliers of Mississippi, who wrote to me:

I played drums on the session with The Ravin’ Blue…. “Love” and “It’s Not Real”. They were all attending Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS and were called The Knights from Starkville. We also had Jo Frank and the Knights from Leland, MS: “Can’t Find a Way”.

The Viet Nam war was raging about this time and The Knights drummer was drafted. We [the Cavaliers] were playing a gig which [Knights bassist] Jimmy Johnson had heard about and was looking for talent (for the manager of The Gentrys out of Memphis). He phoned me afterwards and asked if I would do the session. I had just completed my sophomore year of high school.

We laid down the instrumental tracks at a studio in Memphis, TN named Sonic Studios owned by Roland Janes, where Travis Womack cut the instrumental “Scratchy”. And yes it was produced by Jack Clement from Nashville. They also changed their name to The Ravin’ Blue. The vocals were added at Sun/Phillips studio the following Monday but I had returned to school. So, later on Jimmy Johnson mailed me one copy which I lost and never heard the songs again until I made contact through a friend that knew Bob Bernard about six years ago.

That was the only session or time that I was hired but Jimmy Johnson did phone me a few months later to join the group and to be on the TV show Hullabaloo but I was already in a rock ‘n’ roll group and still in high school. I don’t know if they were ever on that TV show..


sleeve for ’60s Italian release

sleeve for ’60s French release


Rare German sleeve for “Colors” that shows the only photo of the band I’ve ever seen
Does anyone have this sleeve or the photo in better quality?