Little Darlin’ Founder Dies at 81

Written
On 03-30-2009
at 6:38 pm

Dialogue between two friends in the 1960’s.

John: Why don’t you turn Tony Bennett off, and play some country music?

Tom: What are you talking about? This is country music! This is Eddy Arnold’s “Make The World Go Away.”

John: I don’t hear any steel guitar? It sounds like he is singing to the mob, with a cocktail in his hand. Why don’t you put on some Ray Price?

Tom: Sure thing. How ’bout Ray Price’s “For The Good Times.”

John: I already like the title. Makes me think of tossing back a cold one, and getting into a little bit of trouble. (Song starts)

John: Ugh!!!! This sounds worse than the first. It kind of makes me feel like someone else is sleeping with my wife.  And to think that he used to be Hank Williams‘ roommate.

I wonder if this conversation holds any truth? No one can say that the Nashville Sound did not sell records. In 1960, Music City ranked at #2 for most studio recordings. Just when people thought that Rock & Roll was going to bring about the death of Country Music, record executives set in motion a new sound that would all but kill the Honky-Tonk stylings of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. Ray Price could have picked up the baton and finished what these two started, instead, he poured oil on it, and set in on fire. Who are we to blame for this? The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Mr. Guitar himself Chet Atkins. However, we can not discredit him for adding strings and gaudy background vocals to country music. He did what he thought was in the industry’s best interest, which was, save country music before she dies. Country fans found out one universal truth. Country music is not immune to capitalism. Executives do not care if the music is good or bad, they only concern themselves with selling records. Then there was Aubrey Mayhew. In 1961, Mayhew started at a fly-by-night label in New York called Pickwick Records. He got wind of a struggling Nashville songwriter by the name of Donald Lytle. Mayhew traveled to Nashville and found Lytle living beneath the Shelby Street Bridge. Aubrey knew that Lytle needed more edge, so he changed his name to Johnny Paycheck. Aubrey signed Paycheck to Pickwick and immediately marched him into the studio to record two songs, “The Girl They Talk About” and “A-11.” The success of these two songs incited Mayhew to leave Pickwick and move to Nashville. He started Little Darlin’ in 1966.  His main goal was to upset the establishment. Mayhew did not want to recycle the sounds of Countrypolitan or The Nashville Sound. You can get a clear picture of this from the company that he kept. He was responsible for the signing of Jeannie C. Riley and Stonewall Jackson.  You were never gonna hear anything like Mayhew’s self-penned “Pint of No Return” come out of RCA Studios.  Mayhew received the inspiration to write this song from one of Paycheck’s drunken stupors.  It became a signature classic for Stonewall. I guess you could say that Aubrey started the first outlaw movement. After close to 50 years in the music business, Aubrey passed away on March 27 at the age of 81.

On a side note, Aubrey was known for his extensive collection of JFK memorabilia. He possessed, close to, every speech that Kennedy gave.(He produced a compilation of those speeches and sold 4 million copies) He purchased the Dallas Book Depository, where Oswald shot Kennedy out of the window.

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