Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Wayne Knox, 14 April '33, Happy TX) Rockabilly singer, career paralleling that of Buddy Holly, beginning at same studio (see Norman Petty). Knox had written "Party Doll' early as '48, formed the Rhythm Orchids '55 with Jimmy Bowen on bass, Don Lanier on lead guitar; Petty cut "Party Doll' and Bowen's "I'm Stickin' With You' in '56 (using a cardboard box instead of a drum kit because he didn't know how to record drums), released them on local Triple-D label: the record was a runaway 2-sided hit, picked up by then-new Roulette label NYC, split up with different B sides and each sold a million. "Party Doll' made no. 1, Bowen (as "with the Rhythm Orchids') no. 11. Knox discovered the style when teenager Don Mills had sat in on drums on a Rhythm Orchids date, later added drummer Dave Alldred (who had worked with Petty's trio) to the group. Total of eight chart hits on Roulette incl. "Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep', "Hula Love', "'Somebody Touched Me' '57-8. He promoted them on Alan Freed's package tours, film Jamboree; last Hot 100 entry was often-banned "I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself' '59. The sound had developed by then to incl. session guitarists, Bobby Darin on piano; Bowen rarely played bass in the studio, members of Crickets often appearing and (on "All For You') Holly himself; Knox had as many USA hits as Holly did before he died. Bowen had four Hot 100 entries, later became a producer, first at Chancellor; then at Elektra/Asylum/WB '78-83, MCA '84-88 and Capitol '89-95, three times in a row he revived moribund country divisions and made them industry leaders again. He retired to Hawaii, published candid memoir Rough Mix '97 (with Jim Jerome). Lanier recorded less successfully; Knox moved into straight pop on Liberty, then into country: Holly's old partner Bob Montgomery produced Knox's minor country hit "Gipsy Man' '68 on UA. Knox Best Of on Rhino; combined Knox and Bowen The Rhythm Orchids: Complete Roulette Recordings on 2-CD Sequel set.