One of the biggest hits of 1955, the year Rock `N' Roll began to establish itself as something more than just a "passing fad" - as Mitch Miller of Columbia Records labelled it - was The Ballad Of Davy Crockett, the legendary American frontiersman, Member of Congress, and Alamo hero. There were no less than five Top 20 renditions, led by Bill Hayes whose version, with the backing of the Archie Bleyer Orchestra, made it all the way to # 1 that spring for the Cadence label, where it remained for 5 solid weeks.
At the same time Fess Parker, the star of the TV series Davy Crockett, had his own rendition released by Columbia and saw it top out at # 5, the same plateau reached by Tennessee Ernie (Ford) for Capitol Records, who also achieved a # 4 Country. The renowned Bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman had his Dot Records version finish at # 10 Country, while bringing up the rear (but the best rendition in my humble opinion) for RCA Victor was The Voices Of Walter Schumann (he also composed the Dragnet theme) which ended at # 14. Some 36 years later in 1991 The Kentucky Headhunters would see their cover finish at # 49 Country.
But Bill Hayes went them all one better when, for the Folkways label in 1955, he also released this dramatic reading of "Davy Crockett's Own Story" which is divided as follows:
1. Early Childhood (3:06)
2 The Creek Indian War (3:33
3. The Bear Incident (2:35)
4. Electioneering (6:47
5. Congressman (7:04
6. Farewell (5:29
7. The Alamo (3:07)
Although the song itself is not included (all the versions mentioned above can be found in any number of CD compilations), this is a very well done narration of the life and times of a true legend, with liner notes containing the complete text as read by Bill Hayes. Brought to you with excellent sound by Smithsonian Folkways.