Henry Bernard Glover is one of the great unknown behind-the-scenes men in the music business whose legacy continues today.
Born May 21, 1921, in Hot Springs, Glover’s father, John Dixon Glover, was a bathhouse attendant. Radio stations KTHS in Hot Springs and Little Rock’s KLRA exposed young Henry to country music. He studied music in high school, and the live music scene in the booming Spa City also helped influence Glover’s eclectic tastes. This transferred to the incredible variety of musicians Glover would produce over his career: early country artists Grandpa Jones, Hawkshaw Hawkins, the Delmore Brothers and Moon Mullican; R&B artists Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Bill Doggett, Little Willie John and Joey Dee & the Starlighters; bluesmen Paul Butterfield and Muddy Waters, and singers Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington and others.
The original versions of “The Twist” (by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters) and “Fever” (sung by Ouachita County native Willie John) are among the classics of American pop that Glover oversaw.
Glover also wrote a multitude of hit singles, including 1949’s “Blues Stay Away From Me,” co-authored with the Delmore Brothers and Wolf Bayou’s Wayne Raney. The song has been covered by Merle Haggard, Clyde McPhatter, Les Paul and Ace Cannon.
Early in his career, he worked as a trumpeter with Lucky Millinder, Thelonious Monk and Bullmoose Jackson, among others. However, actual records by Henry Glover are hard to find.
Phillips County native Levon Helm first worked with Glover as a member of the Hawks, which backed Huntsville-born rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins on the Roulette label, with Glover overseeing the sessions. Hawkins said Glover was already “a hero of heroes” among himself, Helm and the other musicians — even before they knew Glover was from Arkansas.
Glover’s relationship with Helm and the Hawks continued when they morphed into the Band in the late 1960s. Glover and Helm were partners in the ’70s in RCO Records, which released some of Helm’s solo LPs. “The Muddy Waters at Woodstock” album, which features Helm (as well as two songs by Brinkley-born R&B pioneer Louis Jordan), was produced by Glover. It was Muddy Waters’ last record for Chess, the label where he had gotten his start, and won a Grammy in 1975. Glover also worked on the Band’s “Last Waltz” final concert and film soundtrack.
“Henry’s one of the best Arkansawyers that we ever had,” Helm recalled. “Him and Sid Nathan started King Records; you know, James Brown’s label. And Henry cut all those Hank Ballard and the Midnighters songs -– he’s cut as many damn hit records as just about anybody you name.”
The first major black record executive in country music, Glover forged his own trail in many other ways as a renaissance man of the recording industry. The Garland County native was an arranger, A&R man, producer, talent scout, label owner, songwriter and musician.
Few may know the Glover name, but most know the songs he wrote: “California Sun,” “Drown in My Own Tears,” “Peppermint Twist,” “Teardrops on Your Letter,” and many others, some written under his pseudonym, Henry Bernard. Glover’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Rosemary Clooney to the Ramones.
Glover died April 7, 1991. His contributions as a writer, producer, arranger and musician to country, pop, R&B, rock, jazz, blues have yet to be fully calculated.
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