Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Beck Brothers on Mid West Records (Colchester)

The Beck Brothers Band from Western Illinois has to be one of the longest-lasting musical acts in the state.  Spanning multi-generations and lasting nearly eight decades, the group is still active today in the Macomb area.  

Here we are going to focus strictly on the two singles the original brothers released in 1959 and 1960 on Mid West Records. 

Melvin and Ralph Beck from Colchester, Illinois began playing music at a very young age.  Along with their father Cecil and other relatives, the boys started out by performing on Sunday afternoons in their hometown.

By the late 1950s the brothers were performing at dance halls, supper clubs, county fairs and taverns across western Illinois and eastern Iowa.  They even performed on local television   The group would sometimes be billed in those days as the Beck Brothers Orchestra or Beck Bros Quartet.

Other than Ralph and Melvin, additional band members from this era have not been identified.  Although, at least one advertisement from 1961 mentions the group being joined by "Swinging" Tommy Rogers on the sax.  A few years later, according to ads, live shows featured Tom Powers on the saxophone.

Both of the group's early singles were part of the Starday Custom Series.   There is no information as to where the recordings were made but it is likely that the brothers had them done locally and send them off to Starday Records.   In exchange for all the publishing rights and few hundred dollars, Starday would press a few hundred copies for the Beck Brothers to sell or give away as promotion.  

While Starday's custom pressed records generally featured country and rockabilly music, the Beck Brothers' singles do not fit nicely into either category.  

The label name, Mid West Records, was likely chosen by the Beck Brothers.   Their hometown was misspelled as Colechester on the label of their first single.

"Screamin' Mamie" was written by Melvin Beck.  The flipside, "I'll Love You For A Lifetime," was written by Ralph Beck.  The single was pressed in 1959.

The second single, "Just Like You," was written by Melvin and released in 1960.  The song was backed with an instrumental, "Big Rocker," credited to both brothers.

Melvin Beck passed away in 1996.  His obituary mentions that he worked for Leo Fender and Fender Guitars in California around the time the company was founded.

Ralph Beck passed away in 2018.   He had been a member of the Beck Brothers Band for 70 years.

If you have any more info, photos or memories of this early incarnation of the Beck Brothers Band please reach out to us at: downstatesounds@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. I got to sit in with the group in early 70's. It was amazing fun. They caused me to end buying my own Fender Jazzmaster. Very nice men.