Carl Mann, The Mona Lisa Rocker
Carl Mann 1977

Carl Mann is one of those ‘legendary’ figures in Rock & Roll who build fanatical following among the cognoscenti of the medium, inspire generous praise from the newspaper critics and win sincere admiration from their fellow musicians, without ever really making it big; though he did sell over half a million copies of "Mona Lisa" in 1959. 

Carl Richard Mann was born on August 22nd, 1942, in Huntington, Tennessee: an area that spawned many fine rock and roll singers - Eddie Bond, Johnny Burnette, Carl Perkins, etc. He was on stage at the Grand Ole Opry at nine years of age. His professional career began in 1958 when he recorded "Gonna Rock And Roll Tonight" for Jim Stewart’s Memphis based Jaxon label. He was just 17 years of age, but he had organized a small band to play at dances in West Tennessee, doing the guitarwork himself, until Eddie Bush joined the group. After a year or so, his piano player quit, so Carl started playing the piano developing his own 'rolling' piano style. Later in 1958, Carl and his band worked on radio station WHDM where he also helped to spin records for his D.J. friend Gail Burns. Carl's band at this time was known as the "Kool Kats". Early in 1959, he was more or less discovered by Bill 'Fluke' Holland, who had been playing drums for the Carl Perkins Band. Holland was planning to leave Carl Perkins for various reasons and he wanted to manage Carl Mann, as he thought he was a great talent. Holland took Carl to Sam Phillips, owner of SUN records, to see what he thought.

Sam Phillips was well known in music circles by now, having recorded such great artists as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sam Phillips knew this was another sensational find and Carl Mann was signed to a three years contract with SUN records early in 1959. On April 1st 1959 came his first record "Mona Lisa/Foolish One". This was an instant smash hit and shot up the national charts with sales of over half a million copies. The line-up at the time was Robert Oatswell (Bass), Eddie Bush (guitar), W.S. Holland (drums), Carl Mann (vocals, piano). In September 1959 came a new record: "Pretend/Rockin' Love". It was another smash hit. So was "Some Enchanted Evening" and "I’m Coming Home" in 1960.

The disaster struck and Carl’s career began the fast journey downhill. He had been living at a fast pace for a boy of eighteen and due to a much needed rest Carl had to quit showbusiness for a few months. In the meantime a new star was shining at SUN records: Charlie Rich had hit the top and Sam Phillips had lost interest in Carl Mann. In 1962 Carl's contract with Sun expired and his musical career had come to a fast finish. For the next few years Carl Mann had the kind of luck that no one needs. He spent several years away from the recordingbusiness. But Can Mann, the hard luck rock and roll singer, got a new recording deal with ABC Dunhill Records in 1974 - for which company he cut a number of country songs.

Springtime 1977 Bert Rockhuizen, owner of Rockhouse Records (Holland), met Carl's manager Bob Robinson in Nashville Tennessee. It resulted in a record deal for Carl Mann. The album, Rockhouse LP 7806 "Gonna Rockn Roll Tonight" was recorded in Holland and features one side Live-recordings and the B-side studio-recordings. The record was released in all european countries, and achieved a very succesful sales-result.

In 1981 Carl Mann was back again in Europe for several shows and recordings of his second album for Rockhouse, which was released that year under the title "Rockabilly Country" (Rockhouse LPL8102). This album shows Carl's fantastic capacities in regards to singing rock & roll and country music. With some very strong own compositions.

October 1984: Carl Mann is back in Europe again for several shows, among which an appearance at the 23rd Rockhouse International Rock & Roll Meeting Holland.

From the Rockhouse concert booklet, 1984