Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Sound Cellar: Junior Samples, "The World's Biggest Whopper"

I have a bunch of stuff in my record collection that I’ve been meaning to share here at TMUOTF but hosting audio on Blogger is a complicated-third-party-hosting deal that I just don’t have the time to figure out.

So I’ve cheated a bit and come up with the inelegant solution of creating a video that uses still images to animate the audio clip, posting them on Vimeo and then embedding them here.

So without further fanfare, I present to you a soon-to-be-semi-regular feature called The Sound Cellar.

Today’s selection: “The World’s Biggest Whopper” by Junior Samples. My personal relationship with this particular track goes back to my dad’s record collection . Among his 45’s was this recording of Junior Samples being interviewed about a bass he apparently caught in Lake Lanier, Georgia. Step into a time machine and give this a listen.

My parents are from Atlanta and Memphis so I have distant and hazy memories of visiting my grandparents in country towns with names like Etowah and Collierville and Cozy Cove. This recording seems to capture the pace of these rural, southern towns and something about the people who lived there.

If you’ve heard of Junior Samples at all its from the TV show “Hee Haw” but this pre-dates the run of that show. A brief description of this cut and some biographical information about Junior Samples is pasted below the clip.

I still have this 45 in my collection. Although a giant crack runs right through the vinyl, you can still hear the scratchy, dusty pop of another time and place.

From the All Music Guide

Much-loved country comedian Junior Samples was a long-running regular on the TV show Hee Haw, where he was best known for his shaggy-dog storytelling, nearly incomprehensible accent, and colorful misuse of the English language (not to mention his trademark overalls). Born Alvin Samples in Cumming, GA, on April 10, 1926, he was a sixth-grade dropout who became a comedian by accident in 1966. His son found a large fish head, and Samples told his friends it was from a 22-pound, 9-ounce bass he'd caught, which would have broken the world record. The state Fish and Game Commission interviewed him on the radio, and his story was clearly false, but the interviewer thought it was hilarious and played it repeatedly on his radio show, to tremendous response. A tape of the story was set to music by the Chart Records label and released as a single called "World's Biggest Whopper." It nearly made the country Top 50 in 1967, and Samples appeared on several radio and TV shows, also recording a full-length comedy album for Chart called The World of Junior Samples. Bull Session at Bull's Gap followed in 1968, and the following year Samples signed on at Hee Haw, shortly after the show's premiere. He was a smash hit, supplementing his stories with harmonica performances, misreadings of cue cards, and a long-running used-car salesman character. Chart released another album, That's a Hee Haw, in 1970 to capitalize on Samples' new exposure, but he concentrated on television for the remainder of his career. He remained a cast member on Hee Haw until his death on November 13, 1983. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide


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