Myrna Lorrie - Hello Baby Juke Box Pearls BCD 16743
Here’s another new Bear Family collection but dedicated to the country and rockin’ singing birds that include at the present time Laura Lee Perkins, Mimi Roman and Myrna Lorrie. Another various artists CD titled “That’s What Makes The Juke Box Play” belong to that collection and feature Jean Shepard, Jean Chapel, Janis Martin, Charline Arthur, Anita Carter, Rose Maddox, Bonnie Lou and Margie Singleton to name a few. Let’s hope all these chicks will have then own release in that serie pretty soon. The digipack format allows a very nice, well researched and illustrated booklet with a great discography that highlight the music. Of course being a nice country dude when a gal, specialy a Canadian legend, shouts at me “Hello Baby” I come close fast to know if the doll could whisper too.
Myrna Lorrie, real name Myrna Lorraine Petrunka, being Canadian born and raised, enjoyed success with her first single when recorded and issued on “Abbott”, a Californian label, in USA. The canary was born in Fort Williams very probably on August 6, 1940 and showed pretty young some singing abilities. She got some accordion lessons before switching to guitar and learning songs as “Wildwood Flowers”, the basic training for every young picker, “You Are My Sunshine”, “Mom and Dad’s Waltz” and, of course, Hank Snow’s songbook. By twelve she had her own radio show and appeared with Cowboy Copas when he came to town the following year. In 1953 or early 1954, Don Grashey, a local songwriter and manager from Port Arthur, Ontario, contacted her for trying a duet with Buddy DeVal, a man far over 30 years old. The demo was sent to Fabor Robinson and, in 1954, Myrna and Buddy traveled to Hollywood to record “Are You Mine” and “You Bet I Kissed Him” issued on Abbott 172.
“Are You Mine”, sung with Buddy, is a nice hillbilly ditty that should have fit to Rose Maddox and her brothers while “You Bet I Kissed Him” is a fast hillbilly song with strong acoustic backing. One unissued version for each song is included but they are not much different. “Are You Mine”, having some action and being also issued on Quality 1318, was also recorded by Ginny Wright & Tom Tall on Fabor Robinson’s own “Fabor” record label while Red Sovine & Goldie Hill did the same for Decca. More covers came in the following years, including by Bob & Lucille, making that song a country classic. Another session followed on Sept 28, 1954 still in Hollywood. “Underway” and “I’m Your Man” (sung with Buddy DeVal) were issued on Abbott 177 early 1955, Canadian Quality 1362 and in England on October 1955 (London HLU 8187). “I’ve Got Somebody New”, a slow love song with steel guitar, stayed in the vaults until that CD came out. On January 1, 1955, Myrna played the Circle Theater Jamboree in Cleveland and was interviewed by famous disc jockey Tom Edwards on WERE radio. She and Buddy DeVal had a very nice paper in Country & Western Jamboree in May 1955 and when they published them first annual pool in July 1955, she was n° 9 in the Best Female Singer category and n° 1 as Best New Female Singer. She got her award from the hands of Tommy Edwards. The following year in the same magazine she was n° 2 in the Best New Female Singer category.
The records sold probably well enough to produce another session on September 12, 1955 but without Buddy DeVal. Were recorded “Listen To My Heart Strings” that sound much like Charline Arthur making hard to believe about that girl being 15 years old. That song with loud drums was issued with “Life’s Changing Scene”, a weeper, on Abbott 185, Quality 1432 and London HLU 8294. An alternate of “Life’s” is included as well as “Topsy Turvy Heart” a very boppin’ little ditty also left on the vaults. Two other songs “Tears Amid The Laughter”, another sentimental song, and “Moon Shy”, a more dynamic song with steel guitar were issued on Abbott 187. On November 11 and 12th, 1955, with four Abbott releases in her bag, Myrna attended the 4th annual DJ convention in Nashville with The Browns, another Abbott act, Hank Snow, Carl Smith, Justin Tubb, Elvis and Martha Carson to name just a few. She had a BMI citation of Achievement for 1955 that was published in The Billboard.
F. Husky, M. Lorrie, H. Thompson & Grandpa Jones - Calgary - 1956
Late 1956, she was approached by Steve Sholes to join Hank Snow, Chet Atkins, The Browns and Jim Reeves on RCA. A first session was set in New-York on January 10, 1957 that produced “That’s What Sweethearts Does”, a very nice rhythm song with Herbie Johnson on steel guitar, Shorty Long on piano and Al Chernet on guitar. Also recorded “Teenager’s Breakup” and “Just Released”, two ballads sings right from the heart issued on RCA 6909 around March 1957, and “Die, I Thought I Would”, recorded twice. Once with single vocal and another with double tracked vocal. That second version, better in my own opinion, was issued on RCA 6807 with “That’s What Sweethearts Does”. Myrna toured some with Marvin Rainwater and Porter Wagoner but passed to please her folks an offer for the famous April 1957’s European tour with Jim Reeves, Del Wood and Hank Locklin. Janis Martin, another RCA teenage act, took the place. Myrna enjoyed the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Celebration in Meridian (Ms) in May 1957 being with Johnny & Jack and Tommy Blake on a parade bed truck. Among the other guests were Kitty Wells, Ronnie Self, Carl Perkins and hundred others.
Later that year, in October 31, 1957, Myrna finally recorded in Nashville with Chet Atkins, Hank Garland and the other members of the “A” team. The first song recorded that day was a cover of “I’ll Be Lonesome When You’re Gone”, written by Brad Ingles, and first recorded by a young Linda Brannon for Ram record in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The song may has come to Chet Atkins via RCA ‘cause Mira Smith’s, Ram owner, used then RCA pressing facilities for her releases. Mira Smith and Brad Ingles really loved Myrna’s work on that song that was also recorded later by The Lonesome Drifter, still on Ram, and by Lee Moore with Hardrock Gunter. Next song recorded was “On A Little Bamboo Bridge”, a pop song recorded by Louis Armstrong 20 years earlier, issued back to back with “I’ll Be Lonesome When You’re Gone” on RCA 7115. To complete the session were recorded “Tradewinds”, a pop ballad written by Myrna, and “Hello Baby”, her only rockin’ song borrowed to Helen Hall and Charline Arthur who had it issued on Coin 104 in 1957. Chet Atkins who worked with Charline Arthur, probably knew that Helen Hall’s composition song from a previous session done for RCA, and may have not missed the closeness of them vocal style. That song opens the CD and… close Myrna’s story with RCA. If she had stayed in the States, with the help of Hank and Minnie Snow, things would have turned differently. But she was patriotic and stayed in Canada.
Myrna get married around 1960, raised a daughter and, in 1964, started a TV show in Canada. She recorded for Quality, Sparton, Gaity and Musicor and gave a helping hand to Eileen Twain not yet Shania. Myrna was inductee on the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 after a very successful career.
That CD with a nice booklet worked out by Todd Everett is a pretty nice one for the 50’s country music aficionados.
Dominique "Imperial" Anglares - Aug 12, 2012