“ROCKIN” PARTY” / “HEY LITTLE GIRLIE” was the wild debut single released by the Maddy Brothers in 1958. Raised outside of the old sawmill town of Snohomish, Washington, and later moving to Everett, Bob (mandolin), Jim (rhythm guitar), and Tom (lead guitar), first stepped onto a country dance stage in 1954 at the rural Bryant Grange hall, just outside of Arlington. A few years later and although still teen-aged minors the Maddy Brothers somehow managed to hold down a steady gig at Duffy’s Tavern in Clearview for almost two years. The trio had strong traditional country roots but they had begun assimilating the song stylings of newcomers like the Every Brothers, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Knox into their sound. The Maddy Brothers also began working with a bassist, “Buddy” Bruce Brautsman, and occasionally hired various drummers to sit in.

It was while working at Duffy’s that they were “discovered” and signed to a management contract by Seattle businessman Art Benson. Benson had operated dancehalls and booked jazz bands locally since at least the 1940s, and he could see the rise of rock ‘n’ roll happening and wanted in on the action. The Maddys were taken into Chet Noland’s downtown Seattle studio, Dimensional Sound, and their songs were soon issued as a 45 on Noland’s Celestial Records label. The tunes featured real gone hillbilly harmonies and brother Tom’s truly primitive electric guitar solo, but it’s the aforementioned occasional use of a drummer that is the disc’s one possible drawback. Because, even though there’s those three boppin’ voices, those two twangin’ guitars, that one mad mandolin, and tons of rockabilly slapback studio echo, there’s zero sign of any drums present.

Thus, though a bit unsteady overall, the songs still have a unique appeal. Indeed, the slightly lurid-sounding vocals on “Hey Little Girlie” notwithstanding, the tune was actually selected by a Seattle radio station where, on a popular midmorning show in which listeners could call in to rate new releases, brother Bob recalls rejoicing that day upon hearing their own song receive a 98% “Potential Hit” score. Any visions of immediate fame and fortune soon dissipated however, as the song never aired again. Benson sadly explained that he simple couldn’t meet the cash payola required to push the disc. Ahem.

Five years later the Maddy Brothers gave the record biz another shot, signing with Everett’s Ray-O Records and recording in the basement studio of owner/engineer Ray Van Patton. “Mixed Up” / My Crazy Old Heart” was a much straighter country music effort than their rockin' debut, but (perhaps as a result) in 1963 the brothers were invited to join on as regular performers on the Evergreen Jubilee – KOMO-TV’s weekly country show as hosted by Jack Roberts and the Evergreen Drifters. Every Wednesday evening for two years the Maddys commuted down to Seattle to tape the show and thereby crossed paths with many country music legends including: Hank Thompson, Carl Smith, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, and others.

Meanwhile a brand new Clearview Community Center was built across the road from Duffy’s and the Maddy Brothers were hired to play for a two-year-long series of Saturday night dances there. The guys went on to sign with Portland, Oregon’s Allied Talent Agency and spent the next several years on the road doing six-nighters from Oregon to Idaho to Montana.  Then at the turn of the decade they began booking only local casual dates and by the mid-1970s – after two decades as a working country act – the Maddy Brothers finally retired from public performances. Many changes occurred throughout those twenty years; the old Duffy’s tavern burned to the ground long ago, and the Evergreen Jubilee’s final hoedown was in 1968, but all three Maddy Brothers still live here in Northwest country.

[Note: This is an edited version of an essay that originally appeared in the “Northwest Music Archives” column of Seattle’s The Rocket magazine back in May, 1984.]

Text copyright © 1984, 2014 by Peter Blecha.