George & Earl

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George McCormick and Earl Aycock weren’t natural-born collaborators, they didn’t start singing together at an early age, and they weren’t necessarily made to fill in the gaps the other left. They…
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George McCormick and Earl Aycock weren’t natural-born collaborators, they didn’t start singing together at an early age, and they weren’t necessarily made to fill in the gaps the other left. They were working musicians who teamed up in their early twenties during the mid-‘50s, somehow finding a common ground in how country was slowly morphing into rockabilly. George & Earl never had commercial success, but their records were nervy enough to gain a cult following, and they still pack a punch decades after their recording.

A native of the outskirts of Nashville, McCormick eked out a living playing guitar and bass finding a regular spot in Big Jeff Bess’ Radio Playboys, eventually taking the vocal lead on occasion. This included a lead spot on a Big Jeff recording session, which was enough of a platform for George to take off from the Radio Playboys and join Martha Carson before he took a solo contract with MGM in 1953. McCormick cut Fred Rose’s “Fifty Fifty Honk Tonkin,” a song apparently written for Hank Williams, and his next couple singles were in a Hank vein, a sound that extended into 1954 which is when his path crossed with Earl Aycock.

Aycock had been playing regularly throughout the ‘50s, working his way toward the Martha Carson band which is where he started playing with McCormick. He began singing duets with George during Carson’s stage show and they then hit upon the idea of performing as a duo, eventually signing with Mercury. George & Earl’s Mercury singles straddled the border between country and rock & roll, a nervy sound that didn’t quite catch on as they were released between 1955-1956, despite the high hopes of Mercury. In the wake of the lack of success, McCormick severed ties with the label and Aycock, signing as a solo act with MGM in 1957. He began performing with the Louvin Brothers as his solo work faded into the background, eventually hooking up with Porter Wagoner where he became a regular on the star’s TV show starting in 1963. He stayed with the show for two decades, spending time with Grandpa Jones starting in 1974 and performing with the Grand Ole Opry fixture into the mid-'90s.