Teenage Wanda Jackson, inspired by the spunky Western-accented sounds of Bob Wills and Hank Thompson, began her career as a country singer in the 1950s. After high school, she began to tour, often sharing the stage with Elvis Presley, who encouraged his young friend to pursue this new thing, rock n roll. Jacksons sizzling singing resulted in some of the greatest rockabilly records ever: I Gotta Know, Lets Have a Party, and Fujiyama Mama. Most of these songs, alas, were regional, not national, successes, but Mama shot to No. 1 on the charts in Japan, notwithstanding the lyrics, Ive been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima too/The things I did to them, baby, I can do to you! But it was too cool to last. Jackson transitioned into mainstream country in the early 60s, and then to gospel. In the early 80s, European promoters invited Jackson over to record and perform rockabilly, and thus began her renaissance. Her most recent disc is I Remember Elvis, a nifty no-frills tribute featuring ex-Blondie drummer Clem Burke. Jacksons voice is intact, and the 2009 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still has that spunk.
Red Meat opens.
Fri., April 17, 9 p.m., 2009