Thursday, March 04, 2010

Werly Fairburn the Singing Barber

Werly Fairburn is remembered as a lost legend of rockabilly, when he's remembered at all. Bear Family records rounded up all his singles and brought him back form the archives in 1994. Those 29 tracks of country, rock and rockin' country brought him to my attention and my eventual discovery that he was also a radio man.

Fairburn was born in Folsom, Louisiana in 1924 so it is not surprising that on his return from WWII he returned home to Louisiana. In the war he'd been in the Navy and worked in the Honolulu shipyards so its a tad incongruous that he became a barber. How exactly he became known as the singing barber I don't know. But he was Singing on 1000 WJBW-AM by 1948 in a weekly 15-minute spot as the Delta Balladeer. When he first recorded for Trumpet Records it was as the Delta Balladeer. This was before his Rockabilly phase.

He later moved to 690 WWEZ-AM as “The Singing Barber.” The move probably had something to do with the Cadillac Club. He'd begun playing out as Werly Fairburn and his Delta Boys. In 1954 they began playing the Cadillac Club whose booking was done by Jolly Cholly Stokely, a WWEZ DJ. A year later Billboard reported that Jolly was booking shows and touring with Fairburn. Fairburn came off the road in 1958 and he settled into a regular gig on the Louisiana hayride on KWKH. More here.

In the 1960s he moved to California where he continued to DJ and also started a record label called Milestone Records in the 1950s and early 1960s. He signed a number of R&B and Doo-Wop ground including the Blue Jays. In 1961 the Blue Jays released the biggest single on the label "Lovers Island" produced by Werly Fairburn himself. it made #31 on the Billboard chart.