The Beginning   

 

B. B., 14.... Elvis, 21 

 

    

   

 
The Mar-Keys

Duck Dunn, Charles Axton, Don Nix, Charlie Freeman, Terry Johnson, Wayne Jackson, Steve Cropper


In the Fifties, B. B. entered Messick High School in Memphis and became friends of the musicians in the photo above.

About this same time, B. B. 's Dad, Buddy Cunningham was a Memphis Vocalist who sang under the name Buddy Blake and had a hit record in the early fifties entitled "You'll Cry for Me". He also worked with Sam Phillips at SUN Studio. One night in 1954, Sam Phillips asked him to add some percussion to a recording session for a new artist who was just getting started, named Elvis Presley. From that session came the recordings, "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Good Rockin' Tonight".                                                                                                                                                  

    The Mar-Keys were just starting their first band called "The Royal Spades". B. B. and Jerry Atwood started another band called "The Six O'Clock Boys". 

Sometimes the bands would compete against each other at High School assemblies, but sometimes they would play together and share musicians.

"The Royal Spades" then became the Mar-Keys and their recording "Last Night" hit the top of the charts and became a Rock Classic. B. B. and the Six O'Clock Boys recording of "Ivory Marbles" was a regional hit and this gave B. B. some of his first experience touring with top artists, even while he was still in High School.                                                                           

 It would be difficult to list the accomplishments of this High School  group of Musicians and their impact on Music. Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn became Booker T & the MG'S and are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They were the studio band at Stax Records and also teamed with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi and became the Blues Brothers.

Don Nix is a lengendary music producer, wrote several of Elvis's top songs, traveled with the Beatles, produced the Concert for Bangladesh with George Harrison and worked with Leon Russell. 

  Wayne Jackson teamed up with Andrew Love to form the Memphis Horns. The Memphis Horns have played on more Gold and Platinum albums than any other music group, about 300 at last count.

Meanwhile, B. B. is down at the Memphis Musician's Union Office at the age of 14 asking to join and get his Union Card. They really did not know what to make of this 14 year old guitar player, but they had to give him a Union Card because he was going to be on Dick Clark's American Bandstand in a few weeks. He was the youngest musician ever allowed to join the Memphis Musician's Union.

B. B. had written and recorded a talking song entitled "Trip to Bandstand". Many think  this was the first Rap song and many Memphis musicians call B. B. the first Rap Artist. 

    B. B. and the Six O'Clock Boys recorded many more songs until they broke up in the early Sixties. Their recordings have been added to collections on over a half dozen different albums, such as, "Hot Rockin' Music from Memphis" (Stomper Time).      

                                  
                                         
                                     

B.  B. joined up with the Jerry Lee Lewis Band, New Years Eve 1963. B. B. 21, JLL. 28 at the Cadillac club , Memphis, TN.     

 

In 1965 B. B. joined John "Bucky" Wilkins' Ronnie & The Daytonas, led by Jerry Masters, bass/vocals, Gary

Mc Ewen,guitar/vocals, John Hunter, Drums as a guitarist/organ/vocals. John Hunter, Drums as a guitarist/organ/vocals. This group had the National hit Little GTO. This
Tennessee Based group worked with Ray Brown's National Artists Attractions,
a Memphis based entertainment agency, that also represented Ace Cannon, Dickey Lee, Charlie Rich & Jerry Lee Lewis. The Daytonas would back Ace,          
Dickey & Charlie, because they were single artists & had no personnel.  
 
In 1966 the group was working steady, when not on the road,
at The El Toro Lounge, in West Memphis, AR . A restaurant/bar
commonlyknown as Pancho's, a Tex Mex restaurant chain. The
group changed it's name from The Daytonas to The Hombres,
as the name the Hombres fit the Mexican motif.  You can see
that there is a very thin line between the Daytonas & The                       
Hombres as the personnel remained the same