Merrill Moore (musician)

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Merrill Everett Moore (26 September 1923 – 14 June 2000) was an American swing and boogie-woogie pianist and bandleader whose style influenced rockabilly music during the 1950s.

He was born in Algona, Iowa, and learned piano as a child. By the age of 12 he was performing occasionally on a Des Moines radio station. After leaving school he joined the Chuck Hall Band, which played in local ballrooms, before serving in the US Navy during World War II. He then married, and moved with his wife to Tucson, Arizona and then San Diego, where he worked as a clothes salesman and performed in clubs, often with guitarist Arkie Geurin. He became a full-time musician in 1950, and formed his own band, the Saddle, Rock and Rhythm Boys, who played boogie-woogie and Western swing at the Buckaroo Club. He signed with Capitol Records in 1952 and recorded a string of singles, the most successful of which was a version of "The House of Blue Lights" in 1953. Ken Nelson of Capitol Records invited him to take part in a national tour, but Jimmy Kennedy, the owner of the Buckaroo Club, refused to allow Moore to break his contract to take part.[1][2][3]

According to Steve Huey of Allmusic, Moore's "unique style fused Western swing, boogie-woogie, and early R&B in a melting pot that many critics felt was a distinct influence on rockabilly, especially Jerry Lee Lewis."[1] His music was later highly regarded by rockabilly fans, especially in Europe, although Moore himself said:[3] "We didn't have the idea we were pioneering anything. We were just trying to make a living.... Rock and roll to me was a completely different sound. The rhythm section was incomplete, it was too hard, and it didn't swing...."

Moore continued to record for Capitol in the 1950s, but in 1955 walked out on his contract with Kennedy and moved to Los Angeles. There, he became a regular, along with Tennessee Ernie Ford, on Cliffie Stone's radio program Hometown Jamboree, and also worked as a session pianist for Capitol, appearing on records by Tommy Sands, Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Kay Starr and others. In 1962 he moved back to San Diego, and returned to playing hotels and clubs.[1][2]

He died from cancer in 2000, at the age of 76.


Year Name Label Type Number
1967 Bellyful Of Blue-Thunder Ember Records LP EMB 3392
1968 Rough-House 88 Ember Records LP EMB 3394
1969 Tree Top Tall B & C Records LP CAS 1001
1980 Merrill Moore's Music M & D Records LP LP 2856
Singles and EP's
1953 Red Light / Bartender's Blues Capitol Records 7", Single F2386
1953 The House Of Blue Lights / Bell Bottom Boogie Capitol Records 7", Single F2574
1954 Fly Right Boogie / Nola Capitol Records 7", Single F2796
1954 Ten, Ten A.M. / Doggie House Boogie Capitol Records 7", Single F2924
1954 Snatchin' And Grabbin' / Sweet Jennie Lee! Capitol Records 7", Single F2691
1955 Cow Cow Boogie / Rock-Rockola Capitol Records 7", Single F3034
1955 Down The Road A Piece / Cooing To The Wrong Pigeon Capitol Records 7", Single F3311
1955 It's A One Way Door / Yes, Indeed album Capitol Records 7", Single F3140
1955 Hard Top Race / Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue Capitol Records 7", Single F3226
1956 Gotta Gimme What'cha Got / She's Gone Capitol Records 7", Single F3563
1956 Rock Island Line / King Porter Stomp Capitol Records 7", Single F3397
1957 Merrill Moore Capitol Records 7", EP EAP 1-608
1957 Barrel House Bessie / Tuck Me To Sleep In My Old 'Tucky Home Capitol Records 7", Single 3721
1968 Down The Road A Piece / Buttermilk Baby Ember Records 7", Single EMB S 253
1969 Sweet Mama Tree Top Tall / Little Green Apples B & C Records 7", Single CB-100


  1. ^ a b c Biography by Steve Huey, Retrieved 27 December 2012
  2. ^ a b Welton Jones, Merrill Moore, Rockabilly Hall. Retrieved 27 December 2012
  3. ^ a b Merrill Moore at Black Cat Rockabilly. Retrieved 27 December 2012

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