Moon Mullican: King of Hillbilly Piano Players

Aug 30, 2018

Moon Mullican

In honor of the 75th anniversary celebration of King Records in September, Lee Hay and Brian Powers have teamed up for another series of specials about some of the musicians who recorded at King Records.

The first special will feature "The King of Hillbilly Piano Players," Moon Mullican who recorded at King Records from 1946 until the late 1950's and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1951.

The special will air on WVXU/WMUB on Saturday evening, September 1st at 11pm; Sunday, September 2nd at 7pm; and Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd at 1pm.

Oscar Pepper, Moon Mullican's nephew, spoke with Brian Powers by phone from his home in Texas on February 25, 2018.  He shares memories of Moon's early life in Texas, the Grand Ole Opry, his songwriting career & royalties, and also Moon's funeral and gravesite.

Billy Grammer

Billy Grammer talked with Brian Powers at his cabin in southern Illinois in March, 2010.  His conversation was filled with stories some of which were very humorous, especially one about a Grandpa Jones recording session at King Records and another about a job Governor Jimmie Davis gave Moon Mullican to inspect funeral homes in Louisiana.  Billy Grammer passed away August 10, 2011 at the age of 85 in Benton, Illinois.

Clyde "Eagle Eye" Shields was an important drummer who was King Records' house drummer for groups of various genres as well as at Cincinnati's Cotton Club.  Eagle Eye is regarded as one of the first, if not the first, black drummers who recorded country music.  Brian Powers spoke with Eagle Eye on a visit to Las Vegas, Nevada, in March, 2008.  Subjects included playing with Tiny Bradshaw, working with Henry Glover and playing with Moon Mullican.  Eagle Eye passed away on January 5, 2010 at the age of 85 in Las Vegas. 

Cowboy Copas & Kathy Hughes
Credit pinterest.com

Kathy Hughes is the daughter of the famous King Records recording artists Cowboy Copas.  She's currently living in Nashville and recently shared her memories of Moon Mullican and her years at the Grand Ole Opry.  Moon Mullican became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1951 and was also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Brian Powers spoke with Kathy Hughes by phone on April 9, 2018.

John Rumble, Senior Historian with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, joined Brian Powers by phone on June 14, 2018, to talk about Moon Mullican.  He shares the backstory of Moon's song, "I'll Sail My Ship Alone," co-written with Henry Glover.  Rumble also discussed Moon Mullin's  friendship with Hank Williams, and their song "Jambalaya," as well as "Seven Nights to Rock" with backing by Boyd Bennett & the Rockets.

Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas

This King Records special for WVXU about Moon Mullican was co-produced by Lee Hay and music historian Brian Powers with technical assistance from Andy Balterman and Dellan Stokesbary.  Three more King Records specials are planned in September for WVXU including two about James Brown Productions (September 8th/9th & September 15th/16th) and another that's a potpourri of King Records topics (September 22nd/23rd).  

There are over 40 events happening in September throughout the Cincinnati area in honor of King Records' 75th anniversary celebration.  You can learn more about Eagle Eye Shields, Moon Mullican, and other King Records musicians on Chris Richardson's amazing twitter blog and website.  He plans on posting 100 historical pieces about King Records by the end of October.

Playlist:

  1. Todd Rhodes | "Blues for the Red Boy" | Very Best of King/Federal/Deluxe, Vol. 2
  2. Moon Mullican | "Jambalya" | Seven Nights To Rock
  3. Moon Mullican | "Southern Hospitality" | 78 Single from King Records
  4. Moon Mullican | "Mona Lisa" | Moon Mullican Sings His All-Time Greatest Hits
  5. Moon Mullican | "Cherokee Boogie" | Moon Mullican Sings His All-Time Greatest Hits
  6. Tiny Bradshaw | "Well Oh Well" | Breaking Up The House
  7.  Moon Mullican | "Well Oh Well" | Moonshine Jamboree
  8. Moon Mullican | "I'll Sail My Ship Alone" | Pure Country Romantic
  9. Moon Mullican | "Seven Nights To Rock" | Seven Nights To Rock
  10. Todd Rhodes | "Blues for the Red Boy" | Very Best of King/Federal/Deluxe, Vol. 2