Jimmy Murphy

Jimmy Murphy (born October 11, 1925, Birmingham, Alabama – d. June 1, 1981) was an American country and rockabilly guitarist and singer-songwriter.

Murphy's father, a bricklayer, was a blues enthusiast, and so the young Murphy grew up listening to musicians such as Lead Belly and Blind Boy Fuller. Murphy had already made it to radio by the middle of the 1940s, appearing on local station WBRC's Happy Hal Burns Show. In 1949 he relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee and auditioned for Dinner Bell, a show on WROL hosted by Archie Campbell. Campbell had Murphy meet Chet Atkins, whom Murphy eventually gave a demo; RCA Victor subsequently signed him to a publishing deal and recorded him in January 1951 with just himself on guitar and vocals and Anita Carter playing bass.

Murphy's contract only lasted one year; all of his singles failed to sell. He continued, however, to perform on WROL, and moved to WNOX in the middle of the 1950s. In 1955, Don Law signed Murphy to Columbia Records and had him record a number of rockabilly sides, but none of these charted, and this contract ended in 1956. Murphy followed his father into the bricklaying business and continued playing music on the side, but returned in 1962 to record for Ark Records, Midnite, Loyal, Rimrock, and Starday over the next few years.

He went into retirement until the Library of Congress re-released his first single, "Electricity", on a compilation. Richard Spottswood found Murphy and asked him to begin recording again; the result was the full-length Electricity, released on Sugar Hill Records in 1978. Further recording and a tour had been planned, but Murphy died in 1981 before they could be completed. He has remained a cult figure among rockabilly enthusiasts, and in 1989 Bear Family Records collected his RCA and Columbia recordings (16 songs recorded between 1951 and 1956) and issued them on CD as Sixteen Tons Rock & Roll. 21 recordings from the 1960s were issued in 1999 on the Ace Records (UK) label under the title Southern Roots: The Legendary Starday-REM Sessions

Birth and Death Data: Born October 11, 1925 (Birmingham), Died June 1, 1981

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1949 - 1951

Roles Represented in DAHR: guitar, vocalist, composer, leader

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor E1VB-0913 10-in. 1/29/1951 Electricity Jimmy Murphy Male vocal solo, with guitar and bass instrumentalist, guitar, vocalist, composer, leader  
Victor E1VB-0914 10-in. 1/29/1951 Mother, where is your daughter Jimmy Murphy Male vocal solo, with guitar and bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer, leader  
Victor E1VB-0915 10-in. 1/29/1951 Big mama blues Jimmy Murphy Male vocal solo, with guitar and bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer, leader  
Victor E1VB-0916 10-in. 1/29/1951 We live a long, long time Jimmy Murphy Male vocal solo, with guitar and bass vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar, composer, leader  
Victor E1VB-0918 10-in. 1/30/1951 A bucket of love Bashful Rascals (June Carter) ; June Carter Cash Female vocal solo, with string band composer  
Columbia HCO3983 10-in. 12/30/1949 Love song in 32 bars Johnny Bond ; Red River Valley Boys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  
Columbia HCO3984 10-in. 12/30/1949 Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabam' Johnny Bond ; Red River Valley Boys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Murphy, Jimmy," accessed May 28, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103012.

Murphy, Jimmy. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103012.

"Murphy, Jimmy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103012

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