60s Music

Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids

Introduction to Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids

Buddy Knox
Trading card photo of Buddy Knox. In 1957, Topps gum cards issued a series of movie stars, television stars and recording stars. He was part of their recording stars cards. (Source: Wikipedia)

Rockabilly singer-songwriter Buddy (Wayne) Knox was born in Happy, Texas, in 1933.  He formed the “Rhythm Orchids” which comprised of himself and his high school buddies.  They performed on the same radio show with fellow Texan and musical legend Roy Orbison, who suggested they go to see producer Norman Petty, whose studio the Rhythm Orchids eventually got to cut three songs, including “Party Doll.” The single was later released on the Roulette label and went to the top of the charts in mid-50s music era.  He and the Rhythm Orchids also released other hits such as “Hula Love,” “Rock Your Little Baby to Sleep” and “Somebody Touched Me,” but it never got to the level of success like “Party Doll” did.  In the late 60s throughout the mid-70s there came a very creative period for Knox as he did a lot of experimenting with sounds and recording, including multi-tracking, something which artists rarely did during that time.  He was also an astute businessman, owning a chain of nightclubs and several ventures in Canada.  He died in Canyon, Texas in 1999, aged 65.

 

Meet Buddy Knox with the Rhythm Orchids

Having achieved fame with their breakthrough 1957 hit “Party Doll,” Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids were one of the first rockabilly acts formed which helped define the genre.  Formed in the mid 1950’s, the band was fronted by the Texas-native Buddy Wayne Knox (born in Happy, Texas on July 20, 1933). In 1955, while attending the West Texas State University, Knox founded the group called the Rhythm Orchids. The band composed of Jimmy Bowen on bass, Don Lanier on lead guitar, Dave Allered on drums and Knox on guitar and vocalsLike many upstarting groups who recorded in West Texas during the 50s, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids also gained access to a studio in Clovis, New Mexico where Buddy Holly and the Crickets also recorded. The studio was owned by Norman Petty, Buddy Holly’s manager.

 

 

The band’s recording experience and their big hit “Party Doll”

At Petty’s studio, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids recorded “Party Doll,” a song that Knox had written back in 1948. At the same session they also recorded “I’m Stickin’ with You,” this time with Jimmy Bowen on lead vocals.

Eventually, Knox created his own record company Triple-D, naming after a local radio station in Dumas, Texas, KDDD. Their two previous recordings were later re-recorded on his label and became regulars on radio airplays, gaining them a two-sided hit. In 1957 the newly-established label Roulette Records managed to obtain these two songs and released them, this time on separate records with different B-sides. As an outcome, both Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” and Jimmy Bowen’s “I’m Stickin’ with You” became million-sellers. “Party Doll” (by Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids) went to #1 on the pop chart while “I’m Stickin’ with You” (by Jimmy Bowen the Rhythm Orchids) went to #14 on the same chart.

 

 

 

On Roulette Records, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids had released several records made to the charts from 1957 to 1958, including “Somebody Touched Me,” “Rock Your Litte Baby to Sleep” and “Hula Love” which was a Top 10 placer. In 1959, they issued the “I Think I’m Going to Kill Myself” but it was banned on most of the radio stations. It was also their final release as well.

 

 

Later years

Bowen pursued a solo career and made minor hits. He later became a successful record executive and producer, working for labels like Chancellor, Reprise and MCA (later Universal Records in 1988) where he was made president. Lanie also pursued a solo career. Moving to mainstream pop, solo artitst Knox gained a Top 40 hit in the early 60’s with “Lovey Dovey.” He later switched to country music and had a minor hit called “Gypsy Man.” In the early 70’s he ran The Purple Steer, a nightclub located in Canada where he spent his later years. Knox was claimed by cancer on Valentine’s Day, 1999.

 

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