Rockabilly Essentials: Female Artists You Have to Know About

By Buster Fayte, Featured Author, Sad Man’s Tongue

Many people assume women played an insignificant role in the birth of  rockabilly and rock and roll since they’re often overlooked. Absolutely not so!  Several women were instrumental in those formative years and in this article  I’ll talk about some of them.

  1. Wanda Jackson: Wanda–the “Queen of Rockabilly”–has been getting a  lot of press lately due to her 2011 release “The Party Ain’t Over” which was  produced by White Stripes cool man Jack White. Still, many people don’t realize  just how much of an influence on rock and roll Jackson had. She was truly a  pioneer. She was the first woman to shed the cowgirl outfits and hit the stage  with sexy dresses and high heels, perhaps making her the original “bad girl” of  rock. But there was much more there than just looks. Her music was every bit as  raw and exciting as Elvis’ and she wrote many of her own songs. In many ways  Jackson set the standard by which future female rockers would be judged
  2. Janis Martin: Janis Martin wrote the song “Will You, Will Yum” when  she was just 15. She recorded it as a song demo, but when the executives at RCA  heard it, they not only wanted the song, but also the singer. She was signed to  RCA Victor and the song became an instant hit making her an instant star.  Sharing a record label with Elvis (who by this time had left Sun Records and  signed with RCA Victor) had its advantages and she was given permission to call  herself “The Female Elvis.” She lived up to the name with many great rockers  although she never bested the success of her very first record. Martin is the  lady who is most often cited as the number one contender against Jackson for the  title of “Queen of Rockabilly.”
  3. Rose Maddox: Maddox was the singer for the early rockabilly pioneers  The Maddox Brothers and Rose. She also played fiddle with the band. The Maddox  Brothers and Rose were renowned for their crazy outfits, wild stage antics, and  go-for-broke style in a time (late 1940s and early ’50s) when most artists were  quite reserved on stage. Rose had a strong, if hillbilly-ish, voice and great  delivery.
  4. Lorrie Collins: As the sister half of an act called The Collins Kids,  young Lorrie was the perfect foil for her jumping-bean little brother Larry. As  Larry played incredible rockabilly guitar (he was already a blazing fast guitar  player by age 10) on his crazy double-necked Mosrite guitar, Lorrie was the  picture of stunning beauty and grace as she handled most of the lead singing  chores. Lorrie went on date and sing duets with Ricky Nelson. Lorrie and Larry  were so young when they first started that many of their songs were somewhat  aimed at children, but their delivery was so energetic that their popularity  jump generational bounds.
  5. Sparkle Moore: Born Barbara Morgan, Sparkle Moore was another trend  setter. Where Wanda Jackson shed the cowgirl outfits for sexy glamour, Moore  shed them for in-your-face trouble. She dressed much like her male  contemporaries with pants and leather jacket and wore her hair in a stylized  pompadour (not unlike Brian Setzer’s from the early 80s!) Her music was raw and  forceful and she sang with exaggerated hiccups that would make Buddy Holly  blush.

Each of these women made their mark on early rock and roll just as much as  the men of their era did. And their mark is still evident today. No story of  rockabilly is complete without chapter on these and other influential women of  rockabilly!

Buster Fayte is an author and rockabilly musician. He Blogs at “Buster Fayte’s Rockabilly Romp” where he writes about the passion he shares with millions of musicians and fans for rockabilly and oldies music. Buster has written several books including the “Complete Home Music Recording Start Kit”. He writes original songs, sings, and plays both guitar and bass.

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About Sad Man's Tongue: Rockabilly Bar & Bistro - Prague

We are a Bar and Bistro where old school meets the new school, dedicated to preserving the roots of rock and roll and it's modern adaptations as well as preserving the cultural identity of our neighborhood through our food, the the principles of the slow food movement. A little bit of rockabilly and retro combine with the kustom kulture of today, in an atmosphere devoid of Pretension.
This entry was posted in 1950s, Bands, Culture, Elvis, Elvis Presley, Girls, History, Janis Martin, Music, Music History, Rock n Roll, Rockabilly, Rockabilly Bands & Music, Rockabilly Girl, Rockabilly STyle, Style, Sun Records, Wanda Jackson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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