Joe Stampley Biography

6 June 1943, Springhill, Louisiana, USA. Stampley met Hank Williams when he was 7 years old, who gave him the advice to ‘just be yourself and act like yourself and maybe later on it will pay off for you’. When he was 15, he became friends with local disc jockey Merle Kilgore, and they began to write songs together. In 1958, Kilgore secured for him the chance to record for Imperial. This led to the release of a single, ‘Glenda’, which sold well in his own locale but failed elsewhere. In 1961 a further recording on Chess Records, ‘Teenage Picnic’, also failed. He later recorded a tribute to his labelmate Chuck Berry, ‘The Sheik Of Chicago’. Stampley, influenced in his early days by artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, chose the piano as his instrument and in his high school years turned his interests to rock music. In the mid-60s, he was the lead singer of a pop group, the Cut-Ups, who soon became the Uniques. In 1966, they had minor local successes with ‘Not Too Long Ago’ (a Kilgore/Stampley song), ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and ‘All These Things’, but in 1969 the Uniques disbanded. In the early 70s, he decided to return to country music and moved to Nashville, where initially he worked as a staff writer for Gallico Music. He signed with Dot Records and achieved minor chart success in 1971 with ‘Take Time To Know Her’. The following year he gained his first US country number 1 with his own ‘Soul Song’ (it also became his only US pop chart success, peaking at number 37). This proved the start of a very successful period for him as a recording artist. By 1979, he had taken his total of country chart entries to 32, including two more number 1 hits with ‘Roll On Big Mama’ (1975) and a solo version of the song that he had recorded ten years previously in the rock band, ‘All These Things’ (1976). Other Top 5 hits included ‘I’m Still Loving You’, ‘Take Me Home To Somewhere’ and ‘Do You Ever Fool Around’. He moved to Epic in 1975, working with Norro Wilson as his producer until 1978, when Billy Sherrill took over.

It was during 1979, as a result of touring together in Europe, that Stampley joined forces with Moe Bandy, and the single release of ‘Just Good Ol’ Boys’ became a number 1 country hit and led to a continuation of the partnership over the following years. The idea of Moe and Joe came to them in the Hard Rock Cafe, London, during their appearance at the Wembley Festival. It was perhaps not too surprising that they proved a successful double act; they sounded somewhat similar when they sang and on stage they looked alike. Between 1979 and 1985 their further hits were to include ‘Holding The Bag’, ‘Tell Ole I Ain’t Here’, ‘Hey Joe (Hey Moe)’. In 1984, they ran into copyright problems with their parody about pop singer Boy George called ‘Where’s The Dress’, when they used the intro of Culture Club’s hit ‘Karma Chameleon’. Quite apart from their single successes they recorded several albums together. During the 80s, Stampley continued to make solo Billboard chart entries but many critics, perhaps unfairly, suggested they came because of the publicity achieved by his association with Bandy. Recordings with Bandy apart, his only Top 10 hits in the 80s were ‘I’m Gonna Love You Back To Loving Me Again’ and ‘Double Shot Of My Baby’s Love’. He also had a minor hit with a duet recording with Jessica Boucher of ‘Memory Lane’. His total of over 50 Billboard country chart entries is impressive but few traditional country fans would be too enthusiastic with some of his recordings. Perhaps his contributions were accurately summed up by the critic who wrote: ‘Joe Stampley and Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock led a field of country rockers, who in the 70s, injected a 50s flavour into their songs’. During his career Stampley claims to have played every state in the union and many other countries too. He played the Grand Ole Opry in the 70s, in the days when it was centred at the Ryman Auditorium, but has never been a regular member. He once stated that his regret was that he had never had a million-selling record. His son Tony is also an excellent songwriter, guitarist and performer.

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

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