When you think of rock and roll pioneers, you probably mostly think of men like Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, and others. But women played a significant roll in the early rockabilly foundation of rock and roll. And these women are all too often overlooked as the influences that they were.
Wanda Jackson, who holds the title of Queen of Rockabilly comes most readily to mind, especially since the 2011 release of her “The Party Ain’t Over” CD which was produced by Jack White. Indeed, Jackson played a pivotal role in the early rock and roll years. She brought a brash, sassy, sexy new style to pop music. She wrote many of her own songs, played guitar, and swapped the corny cowgirl outfits worn by most women country and rockabilly singers of the day for sultry, tight-fitting dresses and high heels. Jackson’s early rockabilly records are among the best rockabilly performances by anyone, man or woman.
The name that you most often hear as competition for the Queen of Rockabilly crown is Janis Martin. Janis was just 15 years old when she cut a demo song called “Will You, Will Yum.” When RCA heard the demo, they not only wanted the song, but they wanted the singer too and Martin became a recording star. That song was her biggest hit, selling over 750,000 copies. The record, backed by the song “Drugstore Rock and Roll” that Janis wrote herself, made her a huge draw at concerts throughout the country. Since she shared the same label as the King, she was given permission to bill herself as the Female Elvis Presley and she lived up to the moniker!
Lorrie Collins, who together with her little Brother Larry performed under the name The Collins Kids, was captivatingly beautiful. While little Larry (who was just around 12 years old) jumped around the stage and wailed on his crazy double-necked Mosrite guitar (no, Jimmy Page was not the first!), Lorrie stood at the microphone and delivered the lead vocal with a wonderful voice, easy grace, and stunning power. She went on to sing duets with Ricky Nelson and others. And she held a firm spot in teenage hearts all across the country!
Rose Maddox stepped out of the goofy hillbilly shtick that she and her brothers performed under the name The Maddox Brothers and Sister Rose to cut some fantastic rockabilly tracks. When Rose took the stage and hit rockabilly overdrive, she was a force to be reckoned with.
Sparkle Moore (no relation to Elvis’ guitar player Scotty) cultivated a dangerous, greaser image with leather jackets and a female pompadour. Listen to her track “Skull and Crossbones” and you’ll know she was serious.
And of course, there are others who imprinted their unmistakable mark on the world of rockabilly and rock and roll. And modern women are still getting into the rockabilly act. The captivating Imelda May shows that the women can still rock and that there’s still a place in rockabilly for a strong female voice.
Source by Buster Fayte