“Roll On Big Mama”, a song written by Dan Darst, was recorded by Joe Stampley for the Epic label, in December 1974, at Columbia Recording Studio, 34 Music Sq. East, Nashville, TN. The song was released in February 1975 with the production of Norro Wilson. On May 3, 1975, it reached # 1 on the US Hot Country Songs charts, spending a total of 10 weeks on the charts. On May 17, 1975, it also reached # 1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks charts. It was the second number one in Joe Stampley’s career.
The song was included on Joe Stampley’s fifth studio album, Joe Stampley (Epic 1975), the album was released in January 1975, and reached # 24 on the US Top Country Albums charts.
About Song :
“Roll On Big Mama” was written by Danny Darst, who submitted a demo that was compared to some of the old Dave Dudley truckin’ records. The demo caught the ear of producer Norro Wilson, who wanted the new single to actually capture the feel of the road. Wilson went in with the intention of making a big, rhythmic, pounding record with bass guitars, trying to paint a picture of a big truck. He still had to convince the artist though, whoever it may be (Stampley hadn’t yet been earmarked for the project).
One of songwriter Darst’s friends, Chuck Napier, helped Wilson develop his plan. Napier was producing television commercials for Overdrive Magazine at the time, and he was acquainted with all the big trucking systems such as Peterbilt. The two men decided to begin the project by recording a simulation of a big rig coming down the highway with all the horns going. They pulled one into the back alley behind Columbia’s Studio B in Nashville, and engineer Lou Bradley set up microphones at three different spots in the alleyway. They ended up with a guy manning the truck who wasn’t even a truck driver. He blew the big horn and went through all the gears, zipping as fast as he could through the alleyway. Must have been quite a sight! What they got on tape was good, but they couldn’t pick up some of the great shift changes. The sound of the horns and the start-up of the engine was useable, however.
So Norro got at least some of the sound effects he wanted, but then the next big hurdle lay ahead: convincing Joe Stampley to sign onto the project. Predictably, Joe wasn’t very interested in the modern-day trucking song, and thought it was meant for someone else (in other words, anybody but him!), but in a move to start off on the right foot with his new record label, he reluctantly gave in. However, he wasn’t alone in his skepticism about the song. In those days, Billboard Magazine’s review section was divided into “Picks,” that is, new releases which are deemed to have the most chart potential, and “Recommended,” which are considered to have a lesser degree of ability. The magazine tabbed “Roll On Big Mama” for only a “Recommended” write-up, calling it a “so-so trucking song.” Nonetheless, the less-than-glowing review didn’t stop “Roll On Big Mama” from delivering the goods and sending Joe Stampley to the #1 position on May 3, 1975 for his second chart-topper.
Rankarna & Mats Rådberg 1976 (Polydor)
Philomena Begley 1977 (Top Spin Records)
Tex Robinson & Saltcastle Bullwashers 1987 (Aarton)
The Cowslingers 1996 (Man’s Ruin)
Tony Justice 2017 (TJM)