The Tuesday Blues (Jonesboro, AR)
To Dust and Back in Jonesboro, Arkansas
by Harold Ott
Northeast Arkansas was swarming with bands in the mid to late 60s.
There were a wealth of places for bands to play and Jonesboro was home
to Joe Lee's Variety Recording Studio. It was the place where local
bands could lay down their music at a reasonable price. Joe Lee worked
at Scotty Moore's Fernwood studio in Memphis during the late 1950s.
After Fernwood, Lee moved to Jonesboro and opened Variety and a label
called Alley Records. Bobby Lee Trammell's "Arkansas Twist"
was the first release on Alley in May of 1962. After it became a local
hit, Variety always stayed busy, recording local musicians of every
Scott Snellgrove first recorded at Joe Lee's studio
in 1963 at the age of 13 and the two quickly became friends. His first
band was the Eagles ( Mike Coleman, Mike Singleton, Eugene Harrelson,
Scott Snellgrove, and Danny Jones). This band evolved into the Allstars
( Danny Jones, Scott Snellgrove, Rick Murray, and Stanley Knight). Danny
Jones moved to West Memphis and the group changed into the Furys (Rick
Metzler, Roger Barnhill, Rick Murray, Stanley Knight, and Scott Snellgrove).
With the addition of singer Jim Grimes, the Furys changed their name
to the Esquires and recorded "Sadie’s
Ways" and "Big Thing" at Variety in September of 1965.
The 45 on Alley went #1 in Memphis, but was stopped short when it was
banned for obscene lyrics. In 1966 Grimes enlisted in the Marines and
the Esquires broke up. Metzler and Barnhill joined Our Gang, which would
later feature Stanley Knight along with Jerry Farley, Pat Daugherty,
and Jimmy Weaver previously of the Lechers. Soon after, Metzler also
enlisted in the Marines. Snellgrove, at 16 years old in 1966, had his
sights set on a totally new group.
Bill Little, keyboards, and John Deacon, guitar, formed their first
band, The Cavaliers, along with Bob Appleton and Keith Croft. They asked
Snellgrove, Little’s neighbor, to play bass and shortly after,
Appleton was replaced by Tommy Webb on drums and Croft left the band.
They needed a lead singer, so Snellgrove taught himself to play and
sing at the same time. Deacon, Little, Webb, and Snellgrove were all
in the Jonesboro High School Band. Deacon and Little played trombone,
Snellgrove played trumpet, and Webb played percussion. Tony Mann, a
recent transplant to Jonesboro, was added as lead guitarist.
At their first show, they hadn’t decided on a
new band name yet. It was a Tuesday night and Bill Little got on the
microphone and said "we're the Tuesday Blues" and the name
just stuck.. Throughout the rest of 1966 and 1967 they played nearly
every weekend at local community centers, skating rinks, and after school
functions. Through the help of Snellgrove’s father, they rented
out buildings to have dances and hung flyers all over town. They practiced
in Little’s living room at first but moved to Snellgrove’s
basement after Little got a Farfisa compact organ and amp for Christmas.
Dennis Rogers, a top DJ on WMPS in Memphis and originally from Wynne,
Arkansas, befriended the band. He gave them promo records to work into
their set so that they stayed a full month ahead of the charts. Tommy
Jay and the Escorts of West Memphis played a lot in the Jonesboro area
at battles of the bands with the Tuesday Blues. The two bands set up
battles in cities all across NE Arkansas drawing bands from Memphis
to compete with local acts.
The mother of all battle of the bands was sponsored
by the National Jaycees. The first battle grew out of a local chapter
in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1963. In 1968, 32 states, including Arkansas,
participated with 20,000 bands competing. The contests started on the
local district level, then a state battle was held. The National Contest
was at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey in June of 1968.
The Tuesday Blues won the local contest in Jonesboro
and went on to compete in the state finals in West Memphis. They also
won the state competition, drawing the attention of the Pepper Tanner
label in Memphis who asked the band to play a second set after the show
and requested a demo recording. Two weeks after the state battle of
the bands, they left for Atlantic City. The Nationals were sponsored
by Vox, who provided the on stage instruments.
To prepare for the national battle, the band ordered new jackets from
Lansky’s in Memphis, famous clothier to Elvis. By the time they
boarded the flight to Atlantic City, the jackets weren’t in, so
they had them specially delivered at a layover in Atlanta in true rock
star fashion. The band placed a respectable 12th place and spent the
rest of the week on the beach with all expenses paid and totally unsupervised.
Shortly after their return from Atlantic City, the band
recorded at Joe Lee’s Variety Recording Studio for the first time
on July 2, 1968. By the end of July, the band suffered the first of
many lineup changes. Tony Mann’s parents taught at Arkansas State
University in Jonesboro and were transferred to a college in Georgia,
ending Mann’s time in the band.
Stanley Knight and Scott Snellgrove had been playing music together
since they were 12 years old. They became friends after Knight called
up Snellgrove and asked if he could teach him how to play guitar. Within
a year Snellgrove moved from guitar to bass. When the Esquires broke
up in 1966, Knight joined the Knowbody Else, the group that became Black
Oak Arkansas a few years later. At a show in McCrory, Arkansas, Knight
threw his Gibson SG into the air and the guitar landed on its headstock
and broke into three pieces. With the Vietnam War draft looming and
minus one guitar, Knight went to college in Jonesboro and quit the group
after a few months. Knight then joined Our Gang playing bass. Snellgrove
enlisted Knight’s help in working on band arrangements for the
Tuesday Blues and he traveled with the group to Atlantic City. When
Mann left, the clear choice was Knight for lead guitar.
By 1969 the group began experimenting with sounds and created a unique
blend of southern fried psychedelic rock. Snellgrove and Knight also
began writing songs together incorporating Knight’s searing guitar
tone created by playing through the bass channel of a 50 Watt Fender
Bassman with every dial on 10. This full bodied distortion as gloriously
translated to master tape at Joe Lee’s Variety Recording Studio
in early 1969. The tape was played on local radio station KBTM, but
no record was ever pressed.
Shortly after the recording, Deacon moved across the state to Fayetteville
to attend the University of Arkansas and quit the group, reducing the
Tuesday Blues to a four piece. In September of 1969, the band took another
hit when Bill Little also moved to Fayetteville to attend the U of A.
When he could, Little would travel back to Jonesboro for some weekend
shows and remained as a member of the band.
Jim "Dandy" Mangrum formed the Knowbody Else in the mid-1960s
around the time of the Esquires. Mangrum and company would hang out
at Esquires shows and were good friends with Snellgrove and Knight.
As noted above, Knight played with the Knowbody Else for a short time
years before. By 1970, the Knowbody Else had released an LP on Hip Records,
a subsidiary of Stax out of Memphis. Since then the group had moved
to California and forged Black Oak Arkansas. Snellgrove and Knight were
hanging out one day when Mangrum called looking for both of them. There
had been a shakeup in the lineup of BOA and he asked Snellgrove and
Knight to join the band. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. Snellgrove’s
girlfriend was pregnant and he decided that it was best for him to stay
behind. Knight on the other hand had no obligations and decided to leave
the Tuesday Blues to join Black Oak Arkansas.
Soon after that, Little quit the group. Webb also left to join a new
band called Dust with Terry Taylor of
Purple Canteen, who’s
mind melting "Brains in My Feet" is now hailed as a psychedelic
classic. Other members of Dust included David Jean, Larry Rothgary,
George Biard, and Grady Broadaway.. With Knight, Webb, and Little out
of the Tuesday Blues, Snellgrove welcomed a new lead guitarist, Leon
Crittendon from Cotton Plant, Arkansas, and Eddie Ross on drums from
the Bar Boys, a band from nearby Paragould
who recorded at Joe Keene’s studio in Kennett, Missouri and released
a 45 in 1968 on the Lyar label. Crittendon was known for his wild onstage
antics including a time at the 11/70 club in Hazen, Arkansas where he
tore off his shirt and began playing a guitar solo with his teeth. To
put this in context, the 11/70 club is notoriously remembered as one
of the roughest clubs in the state, complete with a chicken wire encased
stage that may have been the inspiration for the Blues Brothers movie.
Crittendon was told to put his shirt back on and act right or the crowd
would wait for him and kick his ass.
The new band played a lot of shows booked for the original lineup of
the Tuesday Blues. Crittendon left the group and played guitar in a
later version of the Classics IV, famous for the song "Spooky,"
before returning to Cotton Plant to be a farmer. To replace Crittendon,
Eddie Ross recruited former Bar Boys bandmate, Greig Lynn. In the fall
of 1970, Little transferred back to ASU and rejoined the band. At this
time, Joe Lee had taken a job as chief engineer at a studio in Little
Rock called San American. It was located in the defunct E&M Studio,
home to MY records. With a major renovation, San American had high hopes,
but only lasted about a year. The Tuesday Blues met up with Lee and
recorded there over a couple of days in 1970. Three cover tunes were
recorded along with a new original song penned by Snellgrove and Little
called "Living Ain’t Easy."
Soon after the San American recording, Little left to join the Ozark
Boogie Band and later the soul group, 1932 Ballroom Blues. Tuesday Blues
continued as a three piece for a short time before Lynn and Ross joined
Dust. By this time former bandmate Tommy Webb who previously joined
Dust had enlisted and gone to Vietnam.
After Lynn and Ross left Tuesday Blues, Snellgrove, at age 20, decided
to shift gears. He played bass for Dale Trammell, Bobby Lee Trammell’s
brother, in Dale’s country group. The frequent bar fights soon
grew tedious and before long he was looking for a new band.
Bass player Grady Broadaway left Dust and Greig Lynn moved to bass
for a recording session at Variety. After that, Snellgrove joined Dust
and Lynn moved back to guitar. Terry Taylor soon left followed by David
Jean and George Biard. This left Snellgrove, Ross, and Lynn back together
and they soon changed their name back to Tuesday Blues. They played
throughout the area until Snellgrove and Ross graduated from ASU in
1972. Snellgrove moved to West Memphis and quit playing music for five
years. In 1977, at age 27, he moved back to Jonesboro and met up with
Buzz Fenner and Jimmy Boling to form the hard rock group WW Zass, named
after a ferry that crosses Lake Norfork in Mountain Home, Arkansas,
where Snellgrove’s parents owned a place. They later evolved into
Puppet and released an EP in 1984. Snellgrove formed new versions of
Tuesday Blues that continued playing into the late 1990s, often with
Ross on drums. Snellgrove’s current band, PF Flyers, features
Ross and Jerry Farley, formerly of the Lechers and Our Gang.
Lost Souls Volume 2 features
The Esquires, The Tuesday Blues, Dust, and many more.
This article was first published in Ugly Things Magazine