Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Hot Rod Race," a precursor to "Hot Rod Lincoln" -- a correction to the historical record concerning George Wilson

Hi folks -- what first follows is my history of hot rod music taken from The Automobile and American Life

"In addition to Felsen’s fiction, the hot rod was also the subject of songs – actually many of them by the early 1950s. The seminal lyrics of many versions that followed was that written by George Wilson and performed by Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys in 1950. “Hot Rod Race” proved to be the precursor of many future songs, including “Hot Rod Lincoln,” the best-known version of which was performed by Johnny Bond in 1960 and Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen in 1972. Initially, the song told the story of a family trip from San Pedro in a Ford that turned into a race with a Mercury. Surprisingly, at the end both the Ford and the Mercury are blown off the road by “a kid, in a hopped up Model A.” Later, the Ford and Mercury were replaced by a Cadillac and a Lincoln, but the continuity in common among the long chain of version is obvious.21" -- pp.139-140.

I received an email from Don Whitworth with the following correction:
Leon Kelly was my uncle. He was taught guitar by my grandfather. My grandfather played Chet Atkins style long before Chet Atkins was known. Uncle Leon was from Glen Rose, Texas. By the way, Hot Rod Race was Not written by George Wilson. If was written by Wilson's son who was underage and could not sign a legal and binding contract. George Wilson sold the rights as if he was the writer. Just wanted to clear that bit of history up.

HOT ROD RACE (written by George Wilson) Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys - 1950 Now me and my wife and my brother Joe, took off in my Ford from San Pedro. We hadn't much gas 'n' the tires was low, but the doggone Ford could really go. Now along about the middle of the night, we were rippin' along like white folks might, when a Mercury behind he blinked his lights, and he honked his horn and he flew outside. We had twin pipes and a Columbia butt, you people may think that I'm in a rut, but to you folks who don't dig the jive, that's two carburetors and an overdrive. We made grease spots outta many good town, and left the cops heads spinnin' round 'n' round. They wouldn't chase, they'd run and hide, but me and that Mercury stayed side by side. Now we were Ford men and we likely knew, that we would race until somethin' blew, and we thought it over, now, wouldn't you? I looked down at my lovely bride, her face was blue, I thought she'd died. We left streaks through towns about forty feet wide, but me and that Mercury stayed side by side. My brother was pale, he said he was sick, he said he was just a nervous wreck. But why should I worry, for what the heck, me and that Mercury was still neck-and-neck. Now on through the deserts we did glide, a-flyin' low and a-flyin' wide, me an' that Mercury was a-takin' a ride, and we stayed exactly side by side. Now I looked in my mirror and I saw somethin' comin', I thought it was a plane by the way it was a-runnin'. It was a-hummin' along at a terrible pace, and I knew right then it was the end of the race. When it flew by us, I turned the other way, the guy in the Mercury had nothin' to say, for it was a kid, in a hopped up Model-A.

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