Carl Mann: neglected but not forgotton!

Rockabilly Hall of Famer Carl Mann was a late comer at Sun Records. He’d been recording for Jaxon Records, but was signed to Sun when Carl Perkins’ drummer, the great W.S. Holland, became his manager. At Sun he continued to record some great rockabilly backed by one of rockabilly’s greatest guitarist, Eddie Bush, but didn’t get much notice. That is until Conway Twitty heard his great rocked-up version of “Mona Lisa,” which had been a number one hit years before for Nat King Cole. Twitty loved Mann’s version and recorded and released the song himself. Sun Records owner Sam Phillips then released Mann’s version and it became a top 20 hit. Mann was just 16 years old and seemed to be on his way. “Mona Lisa” became Sun Records’ last million seller and Mann became the label’s youngest million-selling artist. Unfortunately for Mann, this was 1959 and Sun’s star was setting. His next release, “Pretend,” sold 50o,000 copies, but he was never able to successfully follow up with the type of success he had with “Mona Lisa.” But that doesn’t mean Mann didn’t record a lot more great material. He may well have had much better luck if he’d hit the scene a year or two earlier. In 2005, Mann came out of retirement and was still performing live as late as last year.

About Buster Fayte

Buster Fayte is an author and musician who enjoys sharing his love for rockabilly music with readers throughout the world.
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