Randy Fox

Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story

The electrifying sounds of groovin’ jump blues, Southern-fried rock ’n’ roll, fervent black gospel, and the simmering sounds of the Louisiana swamp came bursting out of Nashville, Tennessee in the early 1950s courtesy of Excello Records and its sister Nashboro label. Operating out of Ernie Young’s Record Mart (“the Record Center of the South!”), Excello forged a partnership with 50,000-watt clear-channel radio station WLAC. The influential station’s dusk-to-dawn broadcasts of rhythm & blues boomed through the stratosphere, captivating millions of teenagers and crossing racial boundary lines. The unusual partnership paid huge dividends as Ernie transformed his shop into one of the largest mail-order record retailers in the world. With a built-in distribution network, his own label releases — by Slim Harpo, Arthur Gunter, Lightnin’ Slim, and Lazy Lester, among others — landed in record collections across the US. By the early 1960s, Excello recordings were reaching the shores of the U.K., where they inspired young Brits such as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton to launch their own R&B combos. Through extensive research and interviews, Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story chronicles the tale of one of the most unusual labels to emerge from the 1950s. Shedding new light on Nashville’s rich history as much more than a country-music town, the book takes readers deep behind the scenes of the rise and fall of an inimitable label whose contributions to blues and R&B continue to reverberate today.

Randy Fox

Author Randy Fox grew up in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, graduated from Western Kentucky University and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His writing on music has appeared in Vintage Rock, Country Music, The East Nashvillian, Nashville Scene, Record Collector, The Journal of Country Music, and other publications. He is a co-founder of independent, free-form radio station WXNA in Nashville and hosts Hipbilly Jamboree, a weekly program of classic country, rockabilly, and Western swing.

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