This compilation of recordings made between ’58 and ’63 is a result of pressure by friends, family and audiences to offer examples of Leon’s efforts in the early stages of his recording career. These are the original recordings presented in CD form.
“I played guitar for my first recording session when I was 12 years old. I had been playing in my dad’s country band, Grandpappy Smith & the Western Valley Boys, for eight years at that time. When I was four years old my act came complete with Coca-Cola crates to stand on…thus enabling me to reach the microphone. In the mid 1950’s I, like most teenagers at the time, got my first exposure of Rock and Roll and was totally captivated. I put my first Rock band together when I was 13 and I am sure we raised a few eyebrows when my father let us do a few tunes on Saturday nights at his dance hall, Melody Ranch. My father founded Orbit Sound Company, Willamette Records and Myrtle Mountain Publishing Company in the same time period. In 1958 we began to pursue and record a commercial Rock and Roll sound. We recorded under the name of Leon Smith, Leon Smith and The Orbit Rockers and later Leon Smith and The Basics. In 1958 my life long friend Wayne Marshall wrote a song about a drag race that actually occurred that summer on what was then Airport Road in Eugene, Oregon. There really was a “Little 40 Ford”. I recorded the song on Willamette Records and it was released in May of 1959. We sold the master to Columbia later that year and they released it on the Epic label. The popularity of drag racing at that time helped propel the record to the top of the charts in many areas and into the charts nationally. “Little 40 Ford” was our first Rock and Roll recording effort. Our final effort was in 1963 when I wrote and recorded “Oh Lonely Me”. As providence would have it, our first and last recordings were the only ones to achieve any measurable commercial success. I was encouraged to produce this collection as further documentation of the early days of Rock and Roll in the Pacific Northwest. My parents were my inspiration, motivation, greatest critics, and most enthusiastic supporters. Their love allowed me to realize a childhood dream. Though they are both deceased this album is dedicated to Lloyd (Grandpappy) and Emma Smith”