Howard Chandler

Very little is known about Howard Chandler, other than that he was an excellent prospect at Sun Records circa 1957 whose work never saw the light of day -- at least not until decades later. He wrote one song, "Wampus Cat," that is considered a kind of underground hillbilly (or rockabilly, depending on whose doing the defining) classic -- and given the song's title and the particulars of the legendary "wampus cat," Chandler likely hailed from Tennessee. He cut the latter as a midtempo hillbilly rocker for Wampus Records, backed with "Island of Love," issued in early 1958, and he subsequently recorded singles of "Black Gumbo Land" b/w "A Million Friends," and "Mean Old Tomcat" b/w "Before You Wanted to Be Free" for the same label. But lurking in the background was a hotter alternate take of "Wampus Cat" (paired with "Golden Band" for a proposed single) that turned up in the Sun Records vaults and finally got issued in the 1990s, courtesy of Bear Family Records. In the interim, Johnny Burnette cut a song of the same title that appears to be a substantially different composition, but has also been credited to Chandler as composer. ~ Bruce Eder

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