Born Daniel Stinnett, 1938, near Owensboro, Kentucky
Dane Stinit arrived on the music scene ten years too late. In 1956 he might have stood a chance with his Sun singles "Don't Knock What You Don't Understand" and "That Muddy Ole River", but not in 1966, the year in which he recorded them.
Dane Stinnett (his real name) was born on a farm near Owensboro in Kentucky. After finishing high school in 1956, he saw that the job prospects in Owensboro were slender. He had some relations in Gary, Indiana, where he got a job with LTV Steel. He would stay with LTV for 31 years, and eventually settled in Lake Station, Indiana, a community almost entirely populated by transplanted southerners. Dane had played in a little local group in Owensboro, but had no real musical ambitions. On a trip back home in 1965 he was discovered at a party and was brought to the Sun studio by Bettye Berger (Ivory Joe Hunter's manager) to cut a custom session of Johnny Cash covers. Putting it mildly, Stinit's style owes a considerable debt to Johnny Cash. As it happened, Sam Phillips walked in the studio during the session, took over the controls from Stan Kesler and was impressed enough to sign the singer to Sun.
On January 29, 1966, Phillips brought Dane back into the studio to cut a session in the Johnny Cash mould, complete with boom-chicka- boom backing. For six years after Cash's departure to Columbia, Phillips had been releasing Johnny Cash singles from the Sun vaults, but he was now staring at the bottom of the barrel and possibly thought he could recreate the Cash magic with Stinit. Or maybe it was just nostalgia. "Don't Knock What You Don't Understand"/"Always On the Go" was released in May 1966 (Sun 402). It sold well enough for Stinit to be invited back on November 29, 1966, for a second session. This time Sam Phillips had decided to let him sound more like himself than Johnny Cash. Seven titles were recorded this time, of which only two were released at the time : "That Muddy Ole River (Near Memphis, Tennessee)"/"Sweet Country Girl" (Sun 405, issued in February 1967).
"That Muddy Ole River" (written by Gene Simmons and Bettye Berger) is an excellent record, one of my favourites from the second half of the 1960s. For a 1966 recording, it is commendably underproduced. No strings, no chorus, just guitar (Reggie Young), bass, drums and piano. "Sweet Country Girl" (co-written by B.B. Cunningham) is also a competent country record. But, unsurprisingly, there were few takers.
The November 1966 session was the last time that Sam Phillips took the controls as president of Sun Records. "Most everybody had left the label", recalled Stinit. "I got the feeling they wasn't going to be in the business much longer". That feeling was correct. Only two more singles would be released on Sun after "Muddy Ole River", including a gospel single that had already been recorded in May 1962. In 1969 Phillips sold the Sun company to Shelby Singleton.
Stinnett (as he returned to calling himself) never recorded again. After taking early retirement from the steel mill, he formed a band to play for homesick southerners in Indiana, but, even with the security afforded by his pension, he never thought of turning professional. In 1988, Bear Family released the complete Sun recordings by Stinit (15 tracks, 12 different songs), on vinyl (BFX 15337). The music has held up remarkably well and especially for Johnny Cash fans, there is a lot to enjoy.
Lyrics of "That Muddy Ole River" : http://www.rockabilly.nl/lyrics3/m0105.htm
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