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Rod Morris
Born:  January 28, 1919
Died:  October 6, 1980
KCMO Kansas City, MO
KCOM Sioux City, IA
KENL Arcata, CA
KHUM Eureka, CA
KIMO Independence, MO
KITE Kansas City, KS
KSOO Sioux Falls, SD
KTRI Sioux City, IA
WJAG Norfolk, NE


About The Artist

Rodney (or Rogene) Morris is best known as the writer of the song "Bimbo" which he recorded on Capitol Records, but was a much bigger hit for Jim Reeves. Morris was a native of Missouri, but spent much of his career at radio outlets in spots like Sioux City, Iowa and Sioux Falls, South Dakota which were out of the mainstream for major country acts such as were WSM, WBT, WLS and WWVA, or KMBC in Kansas City, home of the well known Brush Creek Follies.

Promo Ad - Club 21 - Medord, OR - ROd Morris and his Missourians - September 1959
Promo Ad - KENL - Rod MOrris - July 1959

Promo Ad - KSOO - Rodney Morris and his Missourians - October 1951
Promo Ad - Flame Room - Rodney Morris and his Missourians - Sioux Falls, SD - October 1951
Promo Ad - Marge and Clay's Drive-In - Rod Morris and his Missourians - Excelsior Springs - Roy and Bob, The Melody Boys - January 1952

Promo Ad - Polio Benefit Dance - Winnebago High School - Rodney Morris and His Missourians - January 1953
Promo Ad - Shamrock Inn - Kansas City, MO - Rod Morris and his Missourians - May 1955
Promo Ad - WJAG - Norfolk, NE - Rod Morris and his Missourians - January 1953

Morris was born into a musical family in Brookfield, Missouri. About 1937, he had his own radio show at KITE in Kansas City. He served in the European Theater during the war and came home with a German wife, Anna. He organized a band called the Missourians and played mostly in his home state and the Upper Midwest. For a time he was based at KCOM in Sioux City and then KSOO in Sioux City. He cut his first single on Liberty (not the later more famous label) followed by three in 1949 on Central Records, both local companies. He signed with Capitol in 1950, but his first session did not take place until October 1951 in the radio studio at KSOO.

Johnny Sippel told The Billboard readers in February 1952 that Rod had joined radio station KSOO in Sioux Falls, SD and was the father of a son named Rodney Ludwig. It seems that Fred Stryker of Fairway Music brought Rod to the attention of Ken Nelson at Capitol.

Rod left Sioux Falls sometime in June 1952 to tour extensively with other Capitol artists such as Hank Thompson as reported in The Billboard June 28, 1952. The other artists on the tour included Skeets McDonald; Gene O'Quin; Tex Carmen; Boots and Idaho and Rod Morris. By November, he had re-formed his band and moved his radio base to Norfolk, Nebraska and radio station WJAG. Then he went on to Ottumwa, Iowa. He recorded for Capitol through 1954, but his best song "Bimbo" from October 1953 did much better on Jim Reeves' cover version. Another one of his compositions "North Wind" also became a hit for Slim Whitman.

BMI Awarded a 1954 Citation Of Achievement to Rod Morris and other writers for their "great country and western song hits" of the year.

Promo Ad - Capitol Records - The Billboard - Hank Thompson - Tennessee Ernie Ford - Faron Young - Jimmy Wakely - Rod Morris - August 1952

Promo Ad - Balloon Dance - Blue Lake - Rod Morris and his Missourians - April 1957
Promo Ad - Vance Log Cabin - Rod Morris and the Country Gentlemen - Two Rods and a Reel - January 1958
Promo Ad - Eureka Municipal Auditorium - Rod Morris and his Missourians - June 1957

Promo Ad - Rock-A-Billy Show and Dance - Municipal Auditorium - Eureka, CA - Rod Morris and his Missourians - Big Mo Jamboree - January 1958
Promo Ad - Grand Opening - New Blue Lake - Hill Billy Heaven - Rod Morris and his Missourians - Big Mo Jamboree - March 1958

Promo Ad - Channel 6 - KVIQ-TV - Eureka, CA - Rod Morris and His Missourians - Big Six Jamboree - May 1958
Promo Ad - Vance Log Cabin - Eureka, CA - Rod Morris and The Country Gentlemen

Promo Ad - Club 21 - Medord, OR - ROd Morris and his Missourians - September 1959
Promo Ad - KENL - Rod MOrris - July 1959

Promo Ad - Steak House - Hawarden, IA - Rod Morris - June 1962
Promo Ad - Rich's Recreation - Hawarden, IA - Rod Morris - January 1962

Promo Ad - Ludwig Record, Inc. - Rod Morris - October 1958 Rod then moved to the Eureka, CA area around 1957 where he was quite popular. He did numerous personal appearances. He was also on the first broadcast of the new television station KVIQ, channel 6. The station was initially to be affiliated with the NBC and ABC networks. The station televised its dedication ceremony. Rod Morris, a star of the Big Six Jamboree was to provide special entertainment that day. The manager of the station, Caroll R. Hauser had previous experience in radio - both technical and administrative. He was the former owner of radio station KHUM. The station was located on Humboldt Hill.

An article touting the opening of the Homemakers' Holiday show at the Eureka Municipal Auditorium told readers that Rod "...appeared with the Grand Ole Opry radio show in Nashville, Tenn. for 13 months about six years ago (est. 1952) and has also played on various other programs throughout the midwest and this area. His famous song, "Bimbo," sold over a million copies." However, further research could not determine if in fact he was with the Opry or in Nashville at that time.

In the early 1960's, his career seemed to be taking him back to the midwest. He was doing appearances in Hawarden, IA, about 40 miles north of Sioux City, IA. It was a bit north and west of LeMars, IA, where the Traditional Country Music Festival was held.

Most of Rod Morris' later recordings were on a small label, Ludwig, plus one on Blue Bonnet in the mid-1960's. The label was created by Rod while living in Eureka; it was named after his son, Rodney Ludwig. He died in 1980. Bear Family Records released a compact disc containing thirty of his originals in 2000 with extensive notes by Kevin Coffey that provided the information for this sketch. Coffey notes that Morris composed every song that Morris recorded.

Rod Morris
Record Reviews From The Billboard and Cash Box
Date Label Rec No. Review
12/29/1951 (CB) Capitol 1882 Drunkard's Blues
I Feel Like A Wreck
A strong item is waxed by Rod Morris on the upper level. Itís a number with a pretty tune and a matching vocal thatís doled out with lots of feeling. Another potent entry is turned out by Rod on the reverse side in the form of a bouncy ditty. Both lids look good and ops oughta take their cue.
12/27/1952 (CB) Capitol 2301 Three Empty Bottles
Rod Morris and His Missourians belt out a quick beat bounce. Morris handles the romantic lament with feeling. (Rating: B)
When It Rains Banana Peels
The western artist warbles a moderate tempo novelty against a background of strings. (Rating: C+)
11/23/1953 (BB) Capitol 2651 I'm Not A Kid Anymore
Rod Morris turns in a bright vocal on a cute novelty ditty that could get a lot of spins from the country jocks. Good wax. (Rating: 75)
Is There Anymore At Home Like You
Morris sings this one with spirit too, but the flip is a stronger side. (Rating: 72)
12/12/1953 (BB) Capitol 2669 Bimbo
Rod Morris sires a bright vocal performance of his smart ditty. Country and other deejays should give this a whirl. (Rating: 76)
Everything To Lose, Nothing To Gain
A soulful reading by Rod Morris snakes this side quite a sentimental item. it's a country ballad which offers a change of pace from the flip. (Rating: 74)
12/12/1953 (CB) Capitol 2669 Everything To Lose, Nothing To Gain
Rod Morris sings the sorrowful story of a lad who has nothing to look forward to now that he has lost his heart and soul. Rodís warm and tender reading lends much to the disk as strings back in an appealing manner. (Rating: B)
Bimbo
Hereís a tune thatís breaking wide open in the country market and overflowing into the pop field. A delightful tale penned by Morris, whose charming rendition should catch a goodly share of the spins. (Rating: B)
5/1/1954 (BB) Capitol 2785 Bimbo No. 2
Considering how many months "Bimbo" (No. 1) has been on the charts, it seems logical that this second installment of the "Bimbo" story ought to have a ready-made market. It Is served with style by Mortis to a delightful, easy-going rhythm.(Rating: 75)
Hey, Mr. Mocking Bird
A rather unusual piece of material, with Mortis asking the bird to sine prettily to his girl while they are apart. A solid performance in an attractive arrangement. (Rating: 74)
12/18/1954 (CB) Capitol 3006 That's Nature
Rod Morris sings the sorrowful story of a lad who has nothing to look forward to now that he has lost his heart and soul. Rodís warm and tender reading lends much to the disk as strings back in an appealing manner. (Rating: B)
Nobody Knows Grandma Like Grandma
Reverse lid is a delectable, fast paced novelty that Morris decks out in light-hearted fashion. (Rating: C+)
7/11/1959 (CB) Ludwig 1010 Bimbo
A very fine version of the years back Jim Reeves click. The up-tempo, folk-flavored tune can witness a revival via this wax. (Rating: B+)
Cuckoo
An overly-cute, Latin tempo romancer here. (Rating: C)
7/6/1959 (BB) Ludwig 1010 Cuckoo
Rod Morris sings the sorrowful story of a lad who has nothing to look forward to now that he has lost his heart and soul. Rodís warm and tender reading lends much to the disk as strings back in an appealing manner. (Rating: * *)
Bimbo
Morris offers another pleasant vocal on a bright, medium tempo effort about a little boy. Material is a let-down. (Rating: * *)

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Folk Talent and Tunes; Johnny Sippel; June 28, 1952; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Folk Talent and Tunes; Johnny Sippel; November 15, 1952; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • KVIQ-TV To Begin Program Transmission April 1 - TV Station To Be Received Over Channel 6 With NBC, ABC Network Affiliations; March 31, 1958; Eureka Humboldt Standard; Eureka, CA

Sound Sample—(YouTube Video Format)


Bimbo

Printer Friendly Version

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Blue Bonnet Record
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1001 A Shape Up Or Ship Out
  1001 B Falling Rain
 
Capitol
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1882 A Drunkard's Blues
  1882 B I Feel Like A Wreck
  1946 A Honey, Honey, Honey
  1946 B Cry Baby Blues
  2022 A Ten To One I Love You
  2022 B I've Got News For You
  2173 A Cold Cold Cornbread
  2173 B Don't Put Off 'Til Tomorrow
  2301 A Three Empty Bottles
  2301 B When It Rains Banana Peels
  2424 A Don't You Ever Get Tired
  2424 B That's How I Take to You
  2541 A Nobody Home
  2541 B Free, Wise and Twenty One
  2651 A Is There Any More At Home Like You?
  2651 B I'm Not A Kid Anymore
  2669 A Bimbo
  2669 B Everything To Lose, Nothing To Gain
  2785 A Hey Mister Mocking Bird
  2785 B Bimbo No.2
  2880 A Change
  2880 B I'm Coming Over Tonight
  3006 A Nobody Knows Grandpa Like Grandma
  3006 B That's Nature
 
Central
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  113 A Saturday Night Dance
  113 B Free, White and Twenty One
  115 A Pancho Serenade
  115 B What Makes the World Go Around
  117 A It Ain?t Gonna Happen
  117 B Union County
 
Liberty
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  11187 A Whisky
  11187 B Guy from Missouri
 
Ludwig
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1001 A I'd Trade My Place up in Heaven
  1002 B Ghost of Casey Jones
  1007 A Have Guitar, Will Travel
  1008 B The Part of a Fool
  1009 A Cuckoo
  1010 B Bimbo
  1013 A I Lived with the Angels
  1014 B Bony Eyes of Blue
  1015 A Half Shot in Sioux
  1016 B House of Glass
  1304 A Alabama Jail House
  1305 B Heartbreak Letter


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