b. USA. Los Angeles, California-based vocalist McLollie was one of a number of jump blues artists to enjoy a brief period of fame in the mid-50s in tandem with the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll. Backed by his combo the Honey Jumpers, he recorded a number of minor hits for Modern Records before fading into obscurity.
Raised in California, McLollie was drafted into the armed forces during World War II. During his military service he performed with vocal quartet the Bullets at USO shows for fellow servicemen. After the war finished he relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career, and began working on the demanding lounge circuit as featured vocalist with a jump blues combo. In 1951 McLollie was hired by Mercury Records to be their west coast head of A&R for black music, but his failure to secure any hits for the label meant his contract was cut short. He continued to perform on the lounge circuit with his combo and received his first big break in 1953 when he was asked to cut a new jump side, ‘The Honey Jump’. Written by Leon René and his son Rafael, the owners of minor record label Class Records, the piece was intended as a rival to Joe Liggins’ crossover hit ‘The Honeydripper’. When the single started to take off René sold the rights to Modern Records, by which point McLollie’s recording was competing against versions by the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra and Jackie And Roy.
McLollie’s follow-up, ‘All That Oil In Texas’, was a strong seller that attracted another rival version, this time by the dance band led by Ralph Marterie. A string of jump singles followed in 1954, including ‘Mama Don’t Like’, ‘What You Call ‘Em Joe’ and ‘Wiggle Toe’ (all written by René under the pseudonym Jimmie Thomas), but none of these managed to match the impact made by McLollie’s first two singles. He enjoyed more success with the R&B ballad ‘Convicted’ which was heavily promoted by disc jockey Alan Freed and earned McLollie a slot on Hunter Hancock’s television show. The b-side, ‘Roll Hot Rod Roll’, was a terrific upbeat jump blues that shared much of its energy with early rock ‘n’ roll recordings. McLollie subsequently recorded for both Mercury Records and Leon René’s Class label, enjoying a minor pop hit on the latter in 1958 with the Jeanette Baker duet, ‘Hey Girl, Hey Boy’. In later years, McLollie was content to work the lounge circuit playing his old hits.