Buddy Knox Biography

Buddy Wayne Knox, 20 July 1933, Happy, Texas, USA, d. 14 February 1999, Bremerton, Washington, USA. Knox was one of the first ‘pop-abilly’ hit-makers in the 50s. In 1955, while at West Texas State University, he formed the Serenaders with bass player Jimmy Bowen and Don Lanier (guitar), later adding Don Mills (drums) and changing their name to the Rhythm Orchids. The following year Knox sang lead vocals on ‘Party Doll’, recorded at Norman Petty’s Clovis, New Mexico studio, with Dave ‘Dicky Do’ Alldred on drums. First issued locally on the Blue Moon and Triple-D labels, it later became the first release on Roulette Records, formed by New York nightclub owner Maurice Levy. ‘Party Doll’ went to number 1 in the USA in February 1957. At the same session Bowen recorded the song’s original b-side, ‘I’m Stickin’ With You’, which Roulette issued separately under the recording credit Jimmy Bowen And The Rhythm Orchids. With his light voice skimming over the insistent rhythms, Knox was the first in a line of Texan rockers that included Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Both ‘Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep’ and the gimmicky ‘Hula Love’ were Top 20 hits later in 1957, when he also appeared in the movie Disc Jockey Jamboree. Although he toured frequently with Alan Freed’s package shows, ‘Somebody Touched Me’ (August 1958) was his only other Top 20 hit.

In 1960, Knox and Bowen moved to Los Angeles. There, recording as a solo artist, Knox turned to ‘teenbeat’ material such as ‘Lovey Dovey’, ‘Ling, Ting, Tong’ and ‘She’s Gone’ (a minor UK hit in 1962) with producer Snuff Garrett. During the mid-60s he returned to country music, recording in Nashville for Reprise Records and had a hit with ‘Gypsy Man’, composed by ex-Crickets’ Sonny Curtis. This led to film appearances in Travellin’ Light (with Waylon Jennings) and Sweet Country Music (with Boots Randolph and Johnny Paycheck). Now based in Canada, Knox set up his own Sunnyhill label. He also proved popular in Europe, playing rockabilly revival shows during the 70s and early 80s to a loyal fanbase. He died in February 1999. Following an operation on his hip after a fall, it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.