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Clarence Garlow biography



Clarence Joseph Garlow was born in February of 1911 in Jefferson Davis Parish in Louisiana. His father Compton was a local musician that played in a number of itinerant string bands that toured the area. At a young age the family moved to Beaumont, Texas, As a teenager into his early twenties, Clarence learned the rudiments of a number of stringed instruments and also took up the accordian. From his mid twenties for a number of years, Clarence did not follow up his musical talent but instead worked at a number of factory and service jobs into the late nineteen forties. In 1949 he returned to music and soon had the opportunity to record for local Texas label Macy's Records in Houston. His backup combo for the session included Hilmer Shakesliner on tenor sax, Mildred Smith on piano, and Johnny Marshall on drums. "She's So Fine" and "Blues As You Like It" were released on Macy's # 5001 in January of 1950, and a follow up in March of the year "In A Boogie Mood" and the tune that would become his signature piece - "Bon Ton Roula" ( sometimes spelled "Roulay" the Creole French for "let the good times roll") on # 5002. The popularity of the second release gave Garlow the chance to tour the Texas / Louisiana area, and in 1951 he made two records for local Louisiana labels. Listed as by Clarence Garlow & His Orchestra, the other musicians on the session were Curtis Babbino and Shelly Lackey on tenors, Emma Dell Lee on piano, and Bill Parker on drums. Recorded for Feature # 1000 was another version of his hit song called "New Bon Ton Roula" and "Let Me Be Your Santa" and for the Lyric label now as Clarence "Bon Ton" Garlow with "Louisiana Blues" and "Watch Your Business" on # 100, and "Trouble With My Woman" and "Wrong Doing Woman" on # 101. During 1952 Clarence owned and operated the Bon Ton Drive-In in his home town of Beaumont, Texas. By the following year Garlow had decided to move to Los Angeles, as he thought there were further opportunities there and move away from the Louisiana/Texas region. In April of 1953 he once again recorded "New Bon Ton Roula" and coupled with "Dreaming" for Aladdin Records, it was released on # 3179. Aladdin # 3225 which featured "I'm Hurt" and "You Got Me Crying" with vocal by pianist Emma Dell Lee followed. Throughout the summer "New Bon Ton Roula" continues to sell in its third version. In November Garlow moves to the Flair label in L.A. and records with Maxwell Davis on tenor, Will McDaniel on piano, Red Callendar on bass, and Peppy Prince on drums. The tunes are "Crawfishin" and "Route 90". He is once again listed on the label as "Bon Ton". In late 1954 Clarence Garlow decides that the move to the West Coast did not work out for the best and he returns to Beaumont. He hooks up with zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier for a tour of one nighters through the familiar region of Texas / Louisiana and does some recording for local area labels. "I Keep On Worrying" and "I Called You Up Daddy" from an earlier session are released by Feature on # 3005. In early 1955 Garlow records in a zydeco style fronting a combo on accordian for the Folk Star label in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Also on the session is Lionel Prevo on tenor, Darnell Jackson on piano, Chester Randall on guitar, Garen Joseph on bass, and Matthew Colbert on drums. They record the songs "Za Belle" and "Made Me Cry" on Folk Star # 1130. In early 1955 Garlow embarks in a new phase of his career as he becomes a DJ on radio station KJET in Beaumont. He will be a regular at the station until 1961 with his "Bon Ton Show". A second release for Folk Star is "I Feel Like I'm Calling You" and "No No Baby" on # 1199. After that he stayed in Lake Charles and recorded for the Goldband label in 1956. The songs "Sundown" and "Pretty Little Doolie" on # 1043, "Mad Dog" / "Clear My Night Of Misery" on # 1045, and (once again) "Bon Ton Roula" with pianist Katie Webster and Little Brother Griffin on drums, with "Sound The Bell" on # 1065. In the early nineteen sixties Garlow had his own local rcord label called Bon-Ran for which he recorded with T. Baby Green, doing a remake of "Sound The Bell" and "Train Fare Home" on # 501 which was an air check from his radio show . By the early sixties Garlow had stopped performing and recording but maintained his voice on radio in Beaumont, Tyler, and Orange, Texas, into 1970. He worked mostly outside of music in tose later years but every so often you would hear the notes of "Bon Ton Roula" once more as in 1982 with a re-release of the song along with "My Honey Bee" on British Bally Hoo # 1019. Clarence "Bon Ton" Garlow passed away in July of 1986 in Beaumont, Texas, and a most unique R & B stylist was stilled. His music is featured on many compilation CDs of the music of Louisiana and Texas, but his own albums are hard to find. A 12 track CD on British Flyright is one that is out there, but the best one I have seen is a 24 track CD of all the best tunes on LaCienega called "Clarence Garlow : 1949-1957" . It is worth searching for to give a representative audio biography of this American original. Discography: MACY'S 5001 CLARENCE GARLOW Blues As You Like It / She's So Fine 1949 US MACY'S 5002 CLARENCE GARLOW Bon Ton Roula / In A Boogie Mood (a-side Billboard/r&b #7, Best Seller #7, Juke Box #12) 1/1950 US MACY'S 5012 CLARENCE GARLOW Bound To Lose My Mind / Jumpin' For Joy 1949 US FEATURE 1000 CLARENCE GARLOW & HIS ORCHESTRA New Bon Ton Roola / Let Me Be Your Santa 1951 US LYRIC 100 CLARENCE (BON TON) GARLOW, HIS GUITAR & ORCHESTRA Louisiana Blues / Watch Your Business 1951 US LYRIC 101 CLARENCE (BON TON) GARLOW, HIS GUITAR & ORCHESTRA Wrong Doing Woman / Trouble With My Woman 1951 US ALADDIN 3179 CLARENCE 'BON TON' GARLOW & HIS BAND New Bon-Ton Roulay / Dreaming 1953 US ALADDIN 3225 CLARENCE 'BON TON' GARLOW (b-side with Emma Dell Lee:vcl) You Got Me Crying / I'm Hurt 1953 US DETOUR 003 CLARENCE 'BON TON' GARLOW Crawfishin' / Route 90 1954 US FEATURE 3003 CLARENCE GARLOW Cry Cry Baby / I'll Never Hold It Against You 1954 US FEATURE 3005 CLARENCE GARLOW If I Keep On Worrying / I Called You Up Daddy 1954 US FLAIR 1021 CLARENCE 'BON TON' GARLOW & HIS ORCHESTRA Crawfishin' / Route 90 1954 US FOLK STAR GF-1130 CLARENCE GARLOW & HIS ACCORDIAN Za Belle / Make Me Cry 1954 US FOLK STAR GF-1199 CLARENCE GARLOW, HIS GUITAR & ORCHESTRA No No Baby / I Feel Like Calling You 1954 US GOLDBAND G-1043 BON TON GARLOW Purty Little Doolie / Sundown 1956 US GOLDBAND G-1045 CLARENCE GARLOW Clear My Nights Of Misery / Mad Dog 1957 US GOLDBAND G-1065 CLARENCE GARLOW Bon Ton Roule (Good Times Roll) / Sound The Bell 1957 US BON-RAN NO. 501 T-BABY GREEN ON THE BON-TON SHOW Sound The Bell / Train Fare Home 1962 US GOLDBAND 45-8203 CLARENCE GARLOW Bon Ton Roula / Sound Of The Bell 19?? US BALLY HOO 1019 CLARENCE GARLOW Bon Ton Roule / My Sweet Honey Bee (new recordings produced by Rockin' Sidney) 1982 US DETOUR 45-003 CLARENCE GARLOW Crawfishin' / Route 90 (reissue) 1987 UK ALBUMS FLYRIGHT FLY 586 1951-1958 (LP) New Bon Ton Roola (with Emma Dell Lee) / I Called You Up Daddy (with Anna Mae Rogers) / Let Me Be Your Santa / Sound The Bell / Carry On (1958 recording) / I'm Just A Cry Cry Baby (alt.) / Cry Cry baby / I'll Never Hold It Against You / Come Baby Come / Foggy Blues (1958 recording) / If I Keep On Worrying / You Gonna Get Old Some Day (1954 recording) 1983 UK LA CIENEGA LACGA 701 CLARENCE GARLOW (CD) Bon Ton Roula / In A Boogie Mood / She's So Fine / Blues As You Like It / Jumpin' For Joy / New Bon Ton Roola / I Called You Up Daddy / I'm Just A Cry Cry Baby / Sound The Bell / Carry On / Foggy Blues / I'll Never Hold It Against You / Come Baby Come / Cry Cry Baby / New Bon Ton Roulay / Hey Mr. Bon Ton (unissued Alladin recording with Emma Dell Lee:vcl) / Dreaming / I'm Hurt / You Got Me Crying / Nothing To Talk About / Sound The Bell (unissued alt. take) / No No Baby / Crawfishin' / Route 90 2003 SPA COMPILATIONS ARHOOLIE LP 1009 V/A: ZYDECO - THE EARLY YEARS (LP) Bon Ton Roulet 19?? US GOLDBAND GRLP-7774/FC-12038 V/A: BLUESVILLE (LP) Nothing To Talk About 1976 US FLYRIGHT FLY 518 V/A: ROOSTER CROWED FOR DAY (LP) Foggy Blues (c. 1958 recording) 1976 UK UNITED ARTISTS LAX 145 V/A: GONNA SQUEEZE MY GUITAR (LP) I'm Hurt / New Bon Ton Roulet / You Got Me Crying / Dreaming 1979 JPN UNITED ARTISTS UAS 30187 V/A: ALADDIN MAGIC (LP) New Bon Ton Roulet 1979 UK BLACK DIAMOND EP 4509 V/A: TEXAS TO CALIFORNIA - HOT BLUES GUITAR (EP, 33 1/3rpm) Dreaming 1980 US MOONSHINE BLP 104 V/A: GUITAR IN MY HANDS (LP) Dreaming 198? HOL MOONSHINE BLP 110 V/A: GUITAR IN MY HANDS, VOL.2 (LP) No No Baby 198? HOL ACE CH 29 V/A: TEXAS RHYTHM & BLUES (LP) Crawfishin' / Route 90 1981 UK KRAZY KAT KK 7407 V/A: HOUSTON JUMP 1946-1951 - RHYTHM & BLUES FROM TEXAS (LP) In A Boogie Mood / Jumpin' For Joy 1982 UK CHARLY/FOLK-STAR GFCL 103 V/A: ZYDECO BIRTH (LP) Za Belle / Make Me Cry / Za Belle 1985 UK CHARLY/FOLK-STAR GFCL 104 V/A: WHOLE LOTTA DRINKIN' ON THE BLOCK (LP) No No Baby / Nothing To Talk About / Train Came Down The Tracks (2 takes) 1985 UK CHARLY/GOLDBAND GCL-105 V/A: BOP BOOGIE IN THE DARK (LP) Jolie Tee Catin 1985 UK CHARLY/GOLDBAND GCL-112 V/A: ROCKIN' JUMPIN' SHOUTIN' (LP) Sound The Bell / Bon Ton Roule / Sunday Morning / Pretty Little Dollie 198? UK HOME COOKING HCS 106 V/A: BLUES AS BIG AS TEXAS, VOL.1 (LP) Clarence Garlow & T. Baby Green: Train Fare Home -- reissue: Collectables COL-5220, 1994 US -- 1988 US ARHOOLIE CD 307 V/A: ZYDECO - THE EARLY YEARS (CD) Bon Ton Roulet (1949 version) 1989 US HYDRA LP 7711 V/A: TEENAGE DANCE PARTY, VOL.2 (LP) Route 90 1989 GER ARHOOLIE CD 328 V/A: ZYDECO CHAMPS (CD) Bon Ton Roulet 1992 US ACE CDCHD 427 V/A: BAYOU BLUES BLASTERS (CD) Purty Little Dolly (Doolie) / Sunday Morning 1993 UK COLLECTABLES COL-CD-5276 V/A: YOUNG & ABLE : MACY'S RECORDS STORY (CD) Bon Ton Roula / In A Boogie Mood / Blues As You Like It 1993 US COLLECTABLES COL-CD-5286 V/A: TEXAS ZYDECO GREATS (CD) Bon Ton Roula 1993 US COLLECTABLES COL-CD-5342 V/A: BOOGIE THE JOINT : BOOGIE WOOGIE BLUES OF THE '40S AND '50S (CD) I'm In A Boogie Mood 1994 US COLLECTABLES COL-CD-5087 V/A: THE GOLDBAND BLUES COLLECTION, PART I (CD) Sunday Morning (prev. unissued 1956 recording) / Train Came A Rolling Down The Track (prev. unissued 1957 recording) / Sound The Bell 1994 US COLLECTABLES COL-CD-5088 V/A: THE GOLDBAND BLUES COLLECTION, PART II (CD) Pretty Little Dolly / I Don't Know (prev. unissued 1957 recording) / Za Belle 1994 US CAPITOL BLUES COLLECTION 7243 8 52046 2 3 V/A: LOUISIANA SWAMP BLUES (CD) New Bon Ton Roulay (aka Bon Ton #2) / Hey, Mr. Bon Ton (prev. uniss. 1953 duet with Emma Lee Dee) / You Got Me Crying (with Emma Dee Lee) / Dreaming / I'm Hurt / Flip Flop (prev. unissued 1953 recording) / Jumping At The Zadacoe (prev. unissued 1953 recording) 1996 UK EMI-CAPITOL 37350 V/A: CRESCENT CITY SOUL : THE SOUND OF NEW ORLEANS 1947-1974 (4-CD) Bon Ton Roulet (New Bon Ton Roulet) 1996 US EMI-CAPITOL 37355 V/A: HIGHLIGHTS FROM CRESCENT CITY SOUL : THE SOUND OF NEW ORLEANS 1947-1974 (CD) Bon Ton Roulet (New Bon Ton Roulet) 1996 US P-VINE PCD-2514 V/A: HOUSTON'S DEEP THROAT, CHAPTER 1 : BLUES (CD) Sound The Bell / Train Fare Home 199? JPN GOLDBAND GR-7829-2 V/A: SWAMPLAND CLASSICS, VOL.1 (CD) Told He No No Baby 199? US ZOMBOCO CD 6 V/A: REAL RARE ROCKABILLY, VOL.6 (CD) Pretty Little Dolly 19?? US ACE CDCHD 768 V/A: LONG GONE DADDIES - ORIGINAL 50S ROCKABILLY & ROCK'N'ROLL FROM THE MODERN LABEL (CD) Crawfishin' / Route 90 2000 UK DISKY 999822 V/A: AS GOOD AS IT GETS - RHYTHM & BLUES (2-CD) Dreaming 2000 HOL INDIGO 105 V/A: 1950 : THE R&B HITS (2-CD) Bon Ton Roula 2001 US ACROBAT ACRCD 228 V/A: QUEEN OF HITS - THE MACY'S RECORDINGS STORY (CD) Bon Ton Roula / Boogie Mood / Blues As You Like It / Jumpin' For Joy 200? US SMITH & CO SCCD 1104 V/A: ROCK'N'ROLL ROOTS - THE BLUES INFLUENCE (CD) Bon Ton Roula 200? PROPER PROPERBOX 91 V/A: CAJUN CAPERS - CAJUN MUSIC 1928-1954 (4-CD) Bon Ton Roula 2005 UK PROPER PROPERBOX 129 V/A: THE COSIMO MATASSA STORY (4-CD) New Bon Ton Roulay 2007 UK RHYTHM AND BLUES RANDB003 V/A: THE HISTORY OF RHYTHM AND BLUES: 1942-1952 (4-CD) Bon Ton Roula 2009 FANTASTIC VOYAGE FVTD047 V/A: LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE BLUES - THE EVOLUTION OF TEXAS BLUES (3-CD) Bon Ton Roula 2010 UK