Norman McMillan was one of the performers and entrepreneurs involved in a regional indie label called Empire. Beginning in the fall of 1960, McMillan and partner Carl Cox made a handful of recordings which were released under two different names, Carl and Norman and Johnny Brown. The duo project seems to have been the one on the main burner, although Empire's activities could be best described as a small-kindling fire. McMillan and Cox masqueraded as Brown for only one single, cut in the same recording session that had produced the first Carl and Norman tracks, "Shooting for the Moon" and "We're Happy."
In 1961, McMillan opted to re-release this same pair of tracks rather than attempt a new Carl and Norman opus. Some rockabilly fanatics have reported differences in the 1960 and 1961 versions, indicating that perhaps McMillan and Cox re-shot "Shooting for the Moon" and were happy all over again. In 1962, Carl and Norman came out with "Love Has No Strings" and "Climbing up the Ladder," the final recordings by McMillan under any name. The enterprising Buffalo Bop label has made use of all of the aforementioned material on a series of compilations, pulling out a Carl and Norman side to fit various themes such as interplanetary rocking.