J.B. Brinkley was one of the top session guitarists in Texas during the 1950s and '60s, and got to play on recordings by Andy Starr, Jerry Fuller, and the Chuck-A-Lucks, as well as cutting a his own songs. He was one of those journeyman figures whose career in country helped pave the way for rock & roll, even if he never had a hit himself with the newer music. Brinkley was born and raised in Texas, and started singing with the Crystal Springs Ramblers ("Fort Worth Stomp" etc.) in 1937. He got his big break at the end of the '30s when he joined the Light Crust Doughboys as a guitarist and singer. He was the featured vocalist on the group's 1941 sides. Not much of the Doughboys' music from that period in their history is available on CD, but his performance on an unissued Vocalion single, "It's Funny What Love Will Make You Do," can be heard on Columbia- Legacy's Roots & Blues: The Retrospective 1925-1950. Brinkley had made further records after World War II, but he was primarily known as a top session guitarist, based in the Dallas area and playing regularly on numerous sessions for other artists. Along with his fellow guitarists Paul Buskirk and Lefty Perkins, he became a mainstay of Joe Leonard's Linn Records label, very much that label's answer to Scotty Moore. Brinkley's bluesy Western swing licks adapted easily to rockabilly and mainstream rock & roll as it evolved, and he played a big part on such hot-rocking sides as the Chuck-A-Lucks' "Disc Jockey Fever" and Andy Starr's "Do It Right Now." Brinkley not only played lead guitar but usually led these studio bands as well. The 19'50s saw Brinkley turned into one of the mainstays of the Linn label and one of the busier guitar players in Dallas-Fort Worth, although he did cut one single of Dot Records in the mid-'50s. In 1958, Brinkley -- billed as J.B. Brinkley -- cut a single under his own name for Leonard. The A-side, a catchy novelty tune "I'll Be Your Baby," was a pop-like rock & roll number similar to Elvis Presley's RCA-Victor sides of the period, dominated by the Ryles Sisters' singing and Brinkley making little spoken word comments; the tenor banjo on the song was played by Marvin Montgomery of the Light Crust Doughboys. More impressive musically was the Brinkley-authored B-side, an instrumental called "Guitar Smoke" that was reminiscent of "Raunchy" with more for the guitar to do and some impressive baritone sax work by Jodie Lyons. This single became the record by which Joe Leonard introduced the Lin subsidiary label Kliff Records. Brinkley kept active on the Texas music scene for many years, playing on innumerable rock & roll and country sessions, and cutting songs for Major Bill Smith (the producer of Bruce Channel's "Hey Baby" and Paul & Paula's "Hey Paula," and J. Frank Wilson's "Last Kiss). He passed away at age 68.
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