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Joe Maphis, King of the Strings.
February 28, 2008 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I tell you what, buddy, that ol' Joe Maphis fellow outta Bakersfield, he was one fast picker. Yup, fast as greased lightning and smooth as gaht-damn silk on that double-neck Mosrite guitar. He and the missus have a little advice for you, too: Don't Make Love In a Buggy. And though Joe was mainly a picker, he did pen one memorable little country ditty which you might've heard in some honky tonk along the line: Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music). [note: see hoverovers for link descriptions]

Here's the Joe Maphis MySpace page. As usual, a number of tunes to listen to here, on the player, including a straight up bluegrass banjo number.

More YouTube instrumentals from Joe and sidekick Larry Collins: Flying Fingers and Early American. And this straight-up rock'n'roll number (which finds Maphis on a single neck Mosrite), Ramrod.

Maphis worked quite a bit with rockabilly/country chanteuse Wanda Jackson. Catch his groovy solo in this clip of Wanda's Cool Love, and in this little gem, I Gotta Know. Plus Wanda's Hard Headed Woman.

Here's Joe backing up Bobby Helms on that singer's cover of Hank William's Long Gone Daddy. Straight Outta Compton!

Here's an older Joe, workin' it on out on acoustic, from a record he made with Merle Travis.

The Joe Maphis Wikipedia page.

The Mosrite Guitars Wikipedia page.

Maphis' sidekick Larry Collins is featured in many of the posted YT clips. Here's a Wikipedia page on him and his sister Lorrie Collins, known as The Collins Kids. And here they are doing their rockabilly thing on Rockaway Rock. Following the Collins Kids on this same clip, Joe is seen in yet another duet with Larry Collins, once again sharing that doubleneck Mosrite. And here's the Collins Kids with a decidedly sultrier number, Rock Boppin' Baby, and a rockabilly version of Blue Moon of Kentucky.

And here's little Larry, all growed up and still plucking that double neck, sharing the stage with Deke Dickerson just last year, doing Hurricane.
posted by flapjax at midnite (27 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
That guy's right hand is bloody lethal.
posted by chuckdarwin at 6:32 AM on February 28, 2008


I can't even air guitar that fast.
posted by brain_drain at 7:35 AM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice. The cat had stage presence, too. I love the hat tips while trading eights in Town Hall Boogie .

Dig that there's a female steel player and she gets to solo, though they snubbed the bass player.
posted by Herodios at 7:58 AM on February 28, 2008


Old fan. Great post, thanks.
posted by quarterframer at 8:37 AM on February 28, 2008


See? See? Now *that's* a post.

I didn't realize some of those licks were that old, though it's weird to hear just how much they avoid the b5.

And when they move fast, you can see just how few (interlaced) scan lines are captured on the telecine.
posted by lothar at 9:24 AM on February 28, 2008


Thank you for this, and thank you for including information on the criminally unknown Collins Kids. I practically plotzed when Bear Family released those Town Hall Party DVDs a couple of years ago.

Scroll down to see why those Germans regularly drive me to bankruptcy.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 9:38 AM on February 28, 2008


I see your two necks and raise them three.

What, you still win?! Dag!
posted by not_on_display at 10:30 AM on February 28, 2008


I have never heard of Joe Maphis, thanks for a really great post!
posted by Daddy-O at 10:37 AM on February 28, 2008


Notice that the "single neck guitar" Maphis is playing in the Ramrod clip in the original post is a bass!
posted by metacurious at 10:45 AM on February 28, 2008


To add to the quibbling, metacurious, I think that's also a 50s Fender p-bass to boot.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 11:12 AM on February 28, 2008


I kept waiting for him to bust out some 2112 on the double-neck, but alas... it was not to be.
posted by LordSludge at 11:48 AM on February 28, 2008



The four-handed stuff on Ramrod reminds me of a couple of stunts that Roy Clark and Glen Campbell used to do. 1) Glen (with much longer arms) stands behind Roy and they both fret and pick one guitar. B) each wears a guitar facing the other and picks the other guys guitar as he frets.

Seems like I saw it when one or the other was hosting the Tonight Show in the 1970s. If anyone has any such video to share, I'd be, y'know, grateful.

Meanwhile: Joe's picking is a lot cleaner than young Larry's in these clips. Smooth, no clams. Probably helps that his hands are twice as big. And yeah, these licks are at least this old (Deedle-dee deedle-dee deedle-dee. . . )
posted by Herodios at 11:55 AM on February 28, 2008


Thanks for this post - great stuff!

See, this for me is what makes the Internet great - hearing music from around the world is so easy today that as a composer, it's now possible to be influenced by everything. Never come across this guy before, so I've got some listening and ingesting to do... Time for a bourbon I think (is that close enough territory?) to get into the mood...
posted by benzo8 at 1:33 PM on February 28, 2008


Notice that the "single neck guitar" Maphis is playing in the Ramrod clip in the original post is a bass!

You misquoted me there, champ. I wrote "single neck Mosrite", which is what he's playing. I didn't write "single neck guitar". Watch where you through those quotation marks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:38 PM on February 28, 2008


Oh and, uh, watch where you throw those quotation marks, too...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:49 PM on February 28, 2008


To add to the quibbling, metacurious, I think that's also a 50s Fender p-bass to boot.

You're probably right there, joseph. At first glance, the body looked kinda Mosrite-y to me, so I just went with that. Didn't really think about all that much.

*makes mental note: remember, flapjax, MeFiers have microscopes and will use them!*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:54 PM on February 28, 2008


Yeesh. That is, didn't really think about it all that much.

Or, maybe I was right the first time. Just didn't think all that much, period!

*walks away, humming Lennon's "...it doesn't matter much to me..."

posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:17 PM on February 28, 2008





Speaking of Mosrites and Fenders:

Here are The Ventures Wiping Out the Surfaris on Mosrites in 1965, from the Ventures Live in Japan film. Check out the stage set-up, the choreography, the amps. Check out Bogle playing 16th note bass runs in the 3rd and 4th choruses.

Here they are Walking, not Running on Fenders in 1960 or so in a badly edited, un-synched, and so far unidentified promotional video (no amps? no cables?). This is before Bogle and Edwards switched instruments; and who is that sitting almost motionless at the drumkit? Skip Moore? Howie Johnson? The key grip's nephew?
posted by Herodios at 3:49 PM on February 28, 2008


...Dig that there's a female steel player...

Yeah, Herodios, I noticed that, too. Only the 2nd time I've seen a lady at the helm of that particular instrument. First was, of course, Barbara Mandrell.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:51 PM on February 28, 2008


FWIW, the instrument Joe is playing on Ramrod is a pre-1957 P-Bass. Going mainly by the large pickguard and the Tele-style headstock.
posted by Herodios at 4:03 PM on February 28, 2008


Now that you mention it, flapjax, I think I once saw that particular lady doing something similar to what Maphis did on Pickin' And Singin', only the tune was Mama Don't Allow. . . if it was her, she played guitar, fiddle, bass, sax, etc.

That'd be a nice little project. . . a round-up all the women in pop music known primarily for their instrumental contributions, rather than songwriting or singing. Connie Kaye, Honey Lantree, Tina Weymouth. . .
posted by Herodios at 4:13 PM on February 28, 2008


Are you on it, Herodios? Or should I start putting that one together? (It's the kind of post that'll take a little time to do right!)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:39 PM on February 28, 2008


Oh, and BTW, Herodios, that Ventures clip you linked to: so impressed was I with the performances and the quality, that I made an FPP on that series of YT clips. It's here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:42 PM on February 28, 2008


Joe Maphis is awsome and so is this post.
posted by nola at 5:12 PM on February 28, 2008


Dang, Flap, you done gone and outdid yoursef.
posted by sfts2 at 7:52 PM on February 28, 2008


Are you on it, Herodios? Or should I start putting that one together? (It's the kind of post that'll take a little time to do right!)

It would indeed, more time than I really have. I defer to your evident archival abilities.

Here are some leads off the top of my head: Mickey & Sylvia, Carol (that's CAROL not CONNIE) Kaye, The Honeycombs, The Shaggs, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Isis, Fanny, The Pleasure Seekers, the incomparable Ruth Underwood, The Runaways, Heart, Talking Heads, Melissa Etheridge, The Bangles, The Go-gos, The Cramps, the Slits, Hole, Bikini Kill, The Donnas, Meshell Ndegeocello, Tal Wilkenfeld, Cindy Blackman . . . and Lez Zeppelin.

that Ventures clip you linked to. . . I made an FPP on that series of YT clips.

Ah. I somehow missed that. Nicely done.
posted by Herodios at 8:47 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just stumbled across another Maphis guitar solo, this time on Tommy Duncan's rendition of It Makes No Difference Now.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:01 AM on March 2, 2008


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