Today's featured 45 is the perfect tie in to the Amsterdam recording I just reviewed where the song got its debut for the tour. "Seven Nights to Rock" is one of the most interesting 45s I came across thus far for various reasons. First there's the label where Moon cut the song on, Syd Nathan's King records from Cincinnati. As a record label King's biggest claim to fame is launching James Brown's career. At King Brown revolutionized R&B and morphed it into Funk. But King was also the home of an impressive roster of other R&B artists. Little Willie John, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and Bill Doggett. Typical of those fifties and sixties independents though, King's roster didn't stop nor start there. Before Henry Glover stepped in to build King's R&B roster, King had already achieved considerable success with it's Country roster. Amongst them Moon Mullican, uncredited co-composer with Hank Williams of "Jambalaya". But more on him later.
"Seven Nights to Rock" was co-written and produced by the earlier mentioned Glover. Though his name doesn't ring any real bells today, Glover was a shaping force in the world of R&B, and paved the way for R&R along the way. A skilled trumpet player Glover met Nathan when he was playing with Lucky Millinder's orchestra, arranging on the side. Nathan was impressed with both his skills as an arranger and Glover's intellect so he took him on board of his King records as an A&R manager and producer, making Glover the first black executive in the recording industry. Glover literally helped Nathan built King to an independent force to be reckoned with as he physically helped building the King recording studio on the side. Glover felt right at home with King's hillbilly roster and started doing music that wasn't all that far from what later would become R&R. He produced and recorded proto-R&R 45s such as Bull Moose Jackson's "The Honeydripper" and the "The Huckle-Buck" by Paul Williams. One of those records in that mold was "Seven Nights To Rock". Although by the time that 45 was released, R&R was well on it's way.
Moon Mullican was a Texan hillbilly, born 1921 from highly religious sharecropping backgrounds. He got his R&B chops from blues man Joe Jones, before even entering his teens. Moon's instrument of choice became the piano because "Because the beer kept sliding off my fiddle" he later claimed. His parents religion fed horror with R&B music didn't stop Moon's love for it. By the time he was 14 he learned there was big money in that piano racket when he earned $40 in tips playing a local bar. Money he soon needed to finance his drinking habit and his love for pork chops. Born Aubrey Mullican, it was his love for moonshine that earned him the name 'Moon'. After a failed investment in jukeboxes Mullican settled at King in 1946 kicking off his stay there with the million seller "New Pretty Blonde," a loose reinterpretation of the French "Jole Blon". The records he recorded for King would earn him the nick "the Godfather of R&R" in some circles. Jerry Le Lewis especially was paying attention, later citing Moon as one of his major influences. The 1946 "Shoot the Moon" especially was R&R some eight years before Elvis knocked on Sam Philip's door. Though Moon delighted at Elvis' success, claiming that was what he had been doing all along, he never managed to make a success out of his own stab at it. Cowboy hats and pudgy features simply weren't what it took to get the R&R crazed teens to run down to the shop and pick up one of his records. Moon Mullican suffered an on-stage heart attack in 1962, dying from a second in '66. A mere 45 years of age Moon collapsed under the weight of his beloved pork chops with moonshine.
Available on Seven Nights to Rock
Bruce Springsteen Amsterdam 2008