Thursday, January 11, 2018

Billy "Crash" Craddock

Billy Wayne Craddock was born into a musical family in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1939. He picked up the rudiments of the guitar aged six from his oldest brother. The family entertained themselves singing old gospel standards and folk tunes and Billy grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry. He had a natural talent and ear for music and could pick up a tune almost immediately. The family encouraged him and gave him a nickel for every new song he could sing and not miss a word. Billy’s early influences were Little Jimmy Dickens, Ray Price, Lefty Frizzle, Faron Young and Hank Williams, but it was only after he heard Elvis Presley did he make up his mind to combine his love for music with his need to earn a living.

As an 11 year old Billy won a local television talent contest and after he left high school, he and a brother formed the rockabilly band, The Four Rebels. The nickname "Crash" arose when he played high school football. The name stuck and in 1957 Billy “Crash” Craddock was signed by a local record company. "Smacky-Mouth" was released on the Greensboro Sky Castle label and later that year "Birddoggin'" was released by Colonial Records. Neither single made an impact commercially.

In 1958 he signed with Date Records (a subsidiary of Columbia Records) and released "Ah, Poor Little Baby." The single flopped.

The popularity of RCAs Elvis Presley sent every rival record company in search of clone and Columbia Records marketed “Crash” Craddock as a teenage idol who sang rockabilly and pop ballads. In the US ‘Crash’ Craddock was no commercial match for Presley and had only one entry in the Top 100. Don’t destroy me peeked at 94 in 1959.

Meantime the popularity of Rock’n’Roll had spread to Australia and many US rockers toured the country. At the time the Australian music and radio industry preferred ‘all white’ acts although Little Richard was a rare exception. In 1959 ‘Crash’ Craddock joined Bobby Rydell, The Everly Brothers, Santo and Johnny, and The Diamonds on an Australian tour. Unbeknown to the artist he was very popular with many Australian fans and his tour plane was greeted with thousands of screaming teenagers. ‘Crash’ Craddocks’s single sold well down under and he had several major rockabilly hits, including Boom Boom Baby (1959) and I Want That (1959).

Sadly his popularity in the US did not match his fame in Australia and the sixties were lean years for the singer. He continued to record for several labels but had little success. Popularity of rockabilly in the 60s dwindled with the British Invasion and eventually ‘Crash’ Craddock left the music business to work as a labourer. He still loved singing and changed his style to country. Cartwheel Records signed him in 1969 and two years later his cover version of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s hit "Knock Three Times" burst into the top five of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles.

This heralded his triumphant return and the beginning of a stream of country hits. He quickly gained the title ‘Mr Country Rock’ and with his machismo on stage persona, growlingly voice was the first male sex symbol of country music. ‘Dream Lover,’ ‘You Better Move On,’ ‘Ain't Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on The Trees),’ and ‘I'm Gonna Knock on Your Door’ all made the country Top Ten.

In 1974 he moved to ABC Records (later ABC/Dot Records), and "Rub It In," became his first Number 1 in America and his biggest success.

A second chart topper ‘Ruby Baby’ (cover of the Drifter’s hit) followed a year later.

He completed his hat trick in 1977 with ‘Broken Down in Tiny Pieces.’

Later that same year he had his last two top 10 hits: "I Cheated on a Good Woman's Love" (1978) and "If I Could Write a Song as Beautiful as You" (1979).

He continued to record and changed record labels several times but never would return to the charts. Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock continues to perform and record and has a large fan base in both the US and Australia.

Worth a listen
Smacky-Mouth (1957)
Birddoggin (1957)
Ah poor little boy (1958)
Don’t destroy me (1959)
All I want is you (1960)
Truely True (1961)
I'm Tore Up (1964)
Knock three times (1971)
Dream Lover (1971)
You better move on (1971)
I’m gonna knock on your door (1972)
Ain't Nothin' Shakin' (but the leaves on the trees) (1972)
Sweet Magnolia Blossom (1973)
Rub It In (1974)
Ruby Baby (1975)
Easy As Pie (1975)
Still Thinkin' 'Bout You (1975)
Broken Down in Tiny Pieces (1976)
I cheated on a good woman’s love (1978)
If I Could Write a Song as Beautiful as You (1978)


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