Rimrock Records

Rimrock Records was founded by country music artist Wayne Raney and his son, Zyndall, in Concord (Cleburne County) in 1961. It is said to be Arkansas’s first and only record-manufacturing company. It was located on Rimrock Road off Heber Springs Road just west of the point at which Highway 87 from Banner (Cleburne County) intersects with Highway 25 at Concord.

Such luminaries as the Stanley Brothers and Red Smiley made records, both 45 RPM and LPs, for Rimrock, and Elvis Presley and Ike and Tina Turner did dubbing and studio work there in the early 1970s. Big-name celebrities were often flown in to the Batesville Regional Airport at Southside (Independence County), slipping into Concord at night unbeknownst to the media. Local musicians and singers such as Wayne and Zyndall Raney, Johnny Mitchum, and Shirley Greenfield also cut records for Rimrock.

At the apex of Rimrock Records, the studio band consisted of Zyndall Raney, who played guitar and other instruments; Teddy Riedel, a virtuoso piano player and songwriter from Quitman (Cleburne and Faulkner counties) who had a song, “Judy,” recorded by Elvis Presley; Larry Cartwright, who had worked out of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, at one time and played standup bass; and Wayne Raney himself, who would often join in on harmonica. Other musicians were used as needed.

Rimrock’s pressing plant was sold to Stax Records in Memphis in 1974 and it relocated there, with a seven-year non-compete agreement. However, Zyndall Raney later returned to the recording industry, founding Raney Recording Studios in 1990 in the nearby community of Drasco (Cleburne County). Zyndall Raney is owner and president of Raney Recording Studios, and his son, Jon Raney, is the chief sound engineer and handles the producing and graphic design.

Since 1956, Zyndall Raney has maintained close ties with Sonny Burgess in Newport (Jackson County), one of the pioneers of the rockabilly sound of the 1950s, and other recording stars of the era; Raney played organ and sang harmony on the McCoys’ big hit “Hang on Sloopy” in 1965. These associations influenced Raney’s musical career, and Stax kept him on staff after buying Rimrock. He voted to sign the up-and-coming Aretha Franklin to a Stax recording contract, but others in the company thought she would be too expensive to promote, so she went to Atlantic instead.

Zyndall and his father, Wayne, were born in the same log cabin in Wolf Bayou (Cleburne County) between Concord and Drasco. The cabin was later moved to Heber Springs (Cleburne County), where it is exhibited as the first log cabin built in Cleburne County that has windows. Zyndall Raney performs with his Zyndall Wayne Raney Band in Newport and other places in the state, and the legacy of Rimrock Records lives on with his family recording studio in Drasco.

A colorful sign once decorated the entrance to Rimrock, but a storm blew the sign down, and souvenir hounds snatched it. The Raney family did not replace it.

For additional information:
Barger, Carl J. Cleburne County and Its People. 2 vols. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2008.

Brosius, Jeanni. “Zyndall Raney.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Three Rivers Edition, October 16, 2011. Online at http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2011/oct/16/zyndall-raney-20111016/?threerivers (accessed October 20, 2015).

Kenneth Rorie
Van Buren, Arkansas

Last Updated: 10/27/2015