Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Night Train To Nashville: Arthur Gunter

Arthur Gunter
Arthur Gunter was born on the 23rd May 1926 in Nashville, Tennessee. Gunter was a musician from an early age; as a child, he was in a gospel group with his brothers and cousins called the Gunter Brothers Quartet. In the early 1950s he played guitar in various blues groups around Nashville. Gunter was a regular at the record shop owned by Excello chief Ernie Young and the association led to a recording contract in 1954. In 1955, Gunter recorded Baby Let's Play House for Excello, which became a local hit. It became nationally known later that year when Elvis Presley recorded a version for Sun Records. His first royalty check, received that same year, was for $6500. Gunter was less than impressed, however, with the attitude of the rock n'roll kid and his management:

"Elvis got that number and made it famous. But I didn't get a chance to shake his hand."

Arthur Gunter continued to record for Excello until 1961. His regular band broke up in 1966 and he moved to Pontiac, Michigan, performing only occasionally thereafter. He died of pneumonia on March 16th 1976 at his home in Port Huron, Michigan.

Arthur Gunter - Baby, Let's Play House (Excello) 1955

Buy the CDs Night Train To Nashville Vols 1 & 2 here:

Information from articles by Steve Kurutz, All Music Guide, and Fred Reif, from his liner notes to Baby Let's Play House: the Best of Arthur Gunter (Excello 1995). Thanks to Kay Clary and Donica Christensen of Commotion PR for allowing links to downloads from the CD.


Rob Whatman said...

I typed Arthur Gunter into hype machine, and discovered that Locust Street blog covered this song too.

I hadn't noticed, but they think the song may have a subtext about domestic violence. Apparently, the Elvis Presley version made it more direct.

Was this a common theme in blues? And was it pro or anti abuse?

itsiatkins said...

I purchased Arthur Gunter's guitar which is pictured above from Christie's Auction in NY. It is now available and for sale on ebay. Search under MPM, movie props and memorbilla.
itsi Atkins@gmail