Moon Mullican

Induction Year: 1976

Birth Name: Aubrey Wilson Mullican

Birth Date: 03-29-1909

Place of Birth: Corrigan, Texas

Death Date: 01-01-1967

Place of Death: Beaumont, Texas

"I make the bottles bounce on the table" is how Moon Mullican once described his barrelhouse style of piano playing. Though he's not widely remembered, Mullican is one of the pioneers who fused country, blues and pop, and paved the way for rock & roll.

Aubrey Mullican was born on a farm in east Texas. One of the sharecroppers who worked the Mullican family's land taught eight-year-old Aubrey some bluesy licks on the guitar, and he became smitten with the sound. Soon he had commandeered the family's pump organ, pushing aside the religious sheet music and learning the blues by ear.

At 16, Mullican left home and started playing in saloons and bordellos. "The ladies of the evening would come and sit on the piano bench and fan me as I played," he recalled. Early on, he picked up his nickname, though the origin is hazy. It might have had something to do with moonshine, his balding head or the dusk-to-dawn hours he kept.

In his twenties, Moon joined fiddle player Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers, a band that's often said to be the link between Western swing and honky-tonk. With Bruner, Mullican developed his "three finger style," hammering the treble keys with a flat right hand, while his left walked syncopated boogie-woogie bass lines. Because he sang as well as he played, he didn't remain a sideman for long. From the mid 1940s to the early '50s, Mullican cut solo sides, including the self-penned hits "Cherokee Boogie," "Sweeter Than the Flowers" and the million-selling "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."

His friend Hank Williams brought him into the Grand Ole Opry cast in 1951. It was an open secret that Mullican helped Williams write his classic "Jambalaya." Afterwards, Mullican received 25 percent of the song's royalties on the sly (a legally binding record contract was to blame). As rock & roll exploded, singing pianists like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard added their own raucous takes on Mullican's brand of ivory-pounding. But Mullican was a few years too old to cash in on the new sensation. In the late '50s, he recorded some Nashville Sound-style sides with producer Owen Bradley, but they weren't successful.

After surviving a heart attack in 1962, Moon kept performing in and around his home in Beaumont, Texas. On January 1, 1967, a second heart attack killed him.

"Cherokee Boogie (Eh-Oh-Aleena)"

(written with Chief William Redbird)

Moon Mullican1951 #7 country
Johnny Horton1959  
Bobby Helms1970  
Asleep at the Wheel1973  
Marty Brown1994  
BR5-491996 #44 country


Moon Mullican1966  

"I Was Sorta Wonderin'"

(written with Dusty Ward, Bill Kearns)

Moon Mullican1950  
Red Sovine1970  
Jerry Lee Lewis1975  

"I'll Sail My Ship Alone"

(written with Henry Bernard, Syd Nathan, Henry Thurston)

Moon Mullican1950 #1 country
Ramblin' Jimmie Dolan1950  
Ray Price1957  
Wilburn Brothers1957  
Jerry Lee Lewis1958  
Slim Whitman1961  
Patsy Cline1963  
Ferlin Husky1967  
Cal Smith1967  
George Jones1968  
George Morgan1969  
Leon Russell1973  
Mickey Gilley1975  

"Jole Blon's Sister"

(written with Syd Nathan)

Moon Mullican1947 #4 country

"Moon's Rock"

Moon Mullican1958  

"New Pretty Blonde (Jole Blon)"

(written with Lou Wayne)

Moon Mullican1947 #2 country

"Pipeliner Blues"

Modern Mountaineers (Mullican vocal)1940  
Moon Mullican1952  
The Whites1983  

"Rheumatism Boogie"

(written with Louis Innis)

Moon Mullican1953  

"Rock 'n' Roll Mr. Frog"

Moon Mullican & Boyd Bennett1956  

"Saviour Take Me by the Hand"

(written with Jimmie Davis)

Jimmie Davis1961  

"Sweeter Than the Flowers"

(written with Ervin T. Rouse, Syd Nathan)

Moon Mullican1948 #3 country
Shorty Long & Santa Fe Rangers1948 #12 country
Roy Acuff1949  
Kitty Wells1958  
Bobby Bare1964  
George Jones & Gene Pitney1965  
George Morgan1969  
Charlie Louvin with Jim & Jesse1982  
Johnny Cash & Others1988  

"What About Me"

Ferlin Husky1965  

"When a Soldier Knocks and Finds Nobody Home"

(written with Ernest Tubb, Lou Wayne)

Moon Mullican1947  
Ernest Tubb1957  

Moon Mullican

Induction Year: 1976