RockbillyView- Queen of Rockabilly

Rockabilly View By Jennifer Allsup

Finding the roots of what they call her, the “Queen of Rockabilly”. Wanda Jackson was born in Oklahoma. Wanda’s father Tom was a country singer and he decided to quit singing due to the Great Depression. That journey took them to California. In this transition, Wanda’s dad bought her a guitar and gave her lessons as well as encouraging her to play the piano as they worked up and down the valley.

In 1952 Wanda and her family moved back to Oklahoma City, at twelve years old Wanda won a local talent contest. Winning the contest gave Wanda the privilege to appear on KLPR which took her through her high school days. At this point in Wanda’s life, she had recorded several songs with the Brazos Valley Boys. The song “You Can’t Have My Love” became a top hit in the nation. Wanda’s career started to flourish. After finishing high school, Wanda took to the road and her father Tom became her road manager and her mother became her designer dressing her in glitz and glamour-long earrings, fringed dresses and high heels. What a statement that brought to the country stage.

When Wanda first started touring in the late 1950’s around 55/56, she got to play on the same stage as Elvis Presley, an he encouraged Wanda to play Rockabilly. In 1958, Wanda had her first rockabilly hit “Fujiyama Mama”. This became number one in Japan. In 1960 Wanda covered “Let’s Have a Party”, on the Top 40 which Elvis released three years prior. With an unsurprising success Capitol Records decided to release some of Wanda’s albums she composed with her 1950’s material. When 1963 came along Wanda released and recorded her final album “Two Sides of Wanda”. A bit country and rock-n-roll, which then lead Wanda to her very first Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Within the next couple of years, 1965 to be a bit more accurate, when rockabilly began declining, Wanda decided to turn back the country route. 1970 Wanda took a different route in music. Her children convinced her to start attending church. Shortly after Wanda started writing and recording gospel. Capitol Records soon dropped Wanda and the religious labels weren’t interested either.

Europe seems the place to go next on her musical career. In the 1980’s Wanda went overseas and started playing rockabilly again. That’s where she released another album “Rockabilly Fever!” Her first after rock-n-roll album in twenty years. This brings us closer to 2013. Wanda Jackson released a compilation album 16 tracks I do believe, where such artist as The Cramps and Elvis Costello appeared. My most favorite reading of Wanda Jackson is her collaborating with Jack White of the White Stripes to record “The Party Ain’t Over” in 2011. Wanda is still releasing albums,” Unfinished Business” hit the market in 2012 so look for it! I believe you can never forget your roots!



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