“Skeets McDonald was the biggest tax write-off in the history of Columbia Records.” — Eddie Stubbs

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Nov. 25: Who am I to argue with one of Nashville’s pre-eminent country music historians, Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM-AM 650 DJ Eddie Stubbs. In his mind, label execs acquired a real treasure when old-line country singer turned proto-rocker Enos “Skeets” McDonald signed on, but they squandered it by failing to promote his material.

Stubbs said so on the air more times than I can count, often on either side of playing this fine honky-tonker. He must be right, because I know a fair bit about hillbilly history and had never even heard of the guy before I started tuning in to the Stubbs show. If you’re where I was then, listen up — you’re in for a treat.

Arkansas-born McDonald cut his artistic teeth in the Detroit area before heading out to California, where he recorded for Capitol and had a big hit in 1952 with his self-penned “Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes.” He dabbled in rockabilly later in the decade and showed promise in that style. But when he moved to Columbia in 1959, they wanted him to keep it country. He recorded in Nashville, where musicians like Grady Martin, Harold Bradley, Ray Edenton, Walter Haynes, Joe Zinkan and Floyd Cramer — all of whom played on this session in 1962 — gave his records what you might call the Ray Price sound. (In fact, Price himself sang harmony on an even better McDonald number, “Same Old Town,” cut on one of the first Columbia sessions. I couldn’t find a version to include here.)

“Call Me Mr. Brown” was one of only two hits in McDonald’s seven-plus years on Columbia, and the lone Top 10 entry. As usual, Eddie Stubbs knows his stuff. So that you may know too, check out Skeets McDonald’s bio on Allmusic.com. And give a nod to the amazing Mr. Stubbs today, his 48th birthday. As he might say after playing this great record, “Are there any questions?”

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