Thursday, May 21, 2015

rockin' with wanda

Wanda Jackson became the first lady of rockabilly with her driving rhythm and fearless country snarl.    Born in Oklahoma, her father Tom taught her to play guitar and brought her to see country artists like Tex Williams, Spade Cooley, and Bob Wills.  At the age of twelve, she won a local singing contest for KLPR in Oklahoma City.  She got a record deal with Decca and had a top ten Country & Western hit with her first single "You Can't Have My Love" in 1954.   On her first tour, she played on the same bill as Elvis Presley, who influenced her to play the up and coming rockabilly music.  

Jackson looks back:     "It was just what I lived a for; a new record I could buy and listen to it over and over and over, learn to sing it, learn to play the chords on the guitar - anything to do with music, I loved it. By the time my parents moved back to Oklahoma - let’s see, I was in the fifth grade, which would make me about nine years old, I guess - I had a lot of friends from the church - my mother being a very good Christian woman, she saw to it that I was brought up in church, and we joined a Baptist church there in Oklahoma City. My friends in the church were daring me to go up to a radio station that had local talent and just try out, you know. So, when they double dared me, (laughs) I had to do it! So I went up and tried out for that and from that point on I was on the radio quite a bit. And then in ’54 I signed my first recording contract with Decca...No looking back!...It was so fresh and new, and lot of people - especially adults - they don’t accept something so new very easily. We were finding that that’s the way it was with rock and roll. But yeah, it turned the whole music industry upside down. Nothing was selling but just rock and roll; us other artists were getting frustrated. I’d been working with [Elvis] since ’55 after I graduated - he was the first one I toured with, and toured with up until ’57 - and it was then that he encouraged me to try this new music that was gaining popularity by the minute. And of course I could see that, but I just didn’t think that I could sing it, and he just kept assuring me that I could. Because it was my generation’s music - I was a teenager, seventeen. ...[Rockabilly] was the artist that wore a guitar and... (Laughs) It’s a hard term to explain! Elvis was called ‘the hillbilly cat’, so we think that by him having the guitar, and the word ‘hillbilly’ was the word for country music - that wasn’t used, because you’re ‘hillbilly music’. None of us liked that word...But that’s what they dubbed him, ‘the hillbilly cat’. But as the music became so popular and the word ‘rock’ came into being, they just kinda dropped the ‘cat’ and went with ‘rockabilly’. I don’t know who did that. It was a small window of time, but we made quite an impact in that amount of time...Apparently it was [more controversial for a girl to be playing that kind of music]. I didn’t think about it. I mean, it didn’t bother me or my folks, so I didn’t think about it much. It’s just music; I wanted to try it. But I couldn’t get airplay in America, so I think that was the problem; they didn’t want to accept Elvis and Jerry Lee [Lewis] and those, but the public demanded it, so they had to play it. And then, here comes this teenage girl singing it! (Laughs) And most people say I sing it as well if not better than some of the guys. But they wouldn’t help me by playing my record. And so I recorded for about four years, and then I just stopped. I gave up, because I hadn’t had a hit, and my record sales were dropping. That’s why all that’s happening to me now is so amazing - that this whole body of work is just now being appreciated. It’s amazing."

"Rock Your Baby"

"Cool Love"

"Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad"

"Mean, Mean Man" hit number forty in the UK.

"I Gotta Know" went to number fifteen on the US country singles chart.

'Rockin' With Wanda' 
full album:

All songs written by Wanda Jackson, except where noted.
Rock Your Baby  1:43

Fujiyama Mama ( Earl Burrows)  2:11
You're the One for Me  (Steve Rowland) 1:58
Did You Miss Me?  (Bobby Lord) 2:16
Cool Love  (Vicki Countryman, Wanda Jackson) 2:15
Honey Bop  (Axton, Durden, Reeves) 2:13
Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad  (Danny Barker, Don Raye) 2:36
Baby Loves Him   1:59
Mean, Mean Man   2:10
You've Turned to a Stranger  (Freddy Franks, Jack Rhodes) 2:39
Don'a Wan'a  (Boudleaux Bryant) 2:10
I Gotta Know  (Matt Williams, Paul Evans) 2:29

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