Obscure but talented singer who, with his band the Hot Tots, recorded at least four hot sides for the Oak Records label out of North Carolina. Hager was not only a strong singer with a good band but, based on the evidence, was also a strikingly original force in rockabilly--he and his band, who almost certainly came out of a country background (at least individually), freely incorporated such retro elements as steel guitar, as well as utilizing such unusual influences as Caribbean rhythms on the backings of some songs, such as "Be Bop Boogie," without compromising the raw, freewheeling rockabilly feel. Hager and the Hot Tots must've been quite something to hear in live performance. Oak Records issued two successive singles on Hager around 1957, which were later picked up for release by Ivin Ballen's Gotham label out of Philadelphia, but neither of these labels scored nationally or even regionally with his work. It deserved better than the obscurity in which it has languished. In 1990, Collectables issued four of Hager's songs--some in the form of outtakes--on the multi-artist compilation Be Bop Boogie, which is definitely worth tracking down.
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