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Jimmie Rodgers

Jimmie Rodgers was the name of two singers:

1. Jimmie Rodgers (September 8, 1897 - May 26, 1933) -- James Charles "Jimmie" Rodgers was the first country music superstar. Rodgers, known as the The Singing Brakeman and The Blue Yodeler, was born in Pine Springs, Mississippi[?] but considered his hometown to be Meridian, Mississippi, and spent most of his early life from boyhood accompanying his father on railroad jobs. He eventually became a railroad brakeman, an extremely dangerous and highly skilled job. In the days before air brakes[?] the brakeman had to stop the train by running on top of the moving train from car to car setting mechanical brakes on each.

Tuberculosis forced him to leave the railroad and he undertook all sorts of work, ranging from police detective to blackface performer before answering an advertisement from Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company to audition as a performing artist. This audition in Bristol, Tennessee, on August 4, 1927 (two days after the Carter Family answered the same ad and recorded in the same hall) led to Rodgers' phenomenally successful recording career.

His songs, most of which he wrote himself, were typically either sentimental songs about home, family and sweethearts, or tough takes on the lives of hoboes, "rounders", and railroaders, on his own hard life and happy marriage.

Many of his songs bore the generic title "Blue Yodel" with a number. "Blue Yodel #6", for instance, is better known from its refrain, "T for Texas, T for Tennessee". Fundamentally, Rodgers was a white blues singer, singing traditional blues lyrics and accompanying himself on guitar and yodel, which was nothing like classic Swiss yodeling. His yodelling[?] was really vocalized falsetto blues licks, providing obligattos[?] and choruses that in other blues performances would have been provided by a lead instrument.

Notable Rodgers titles include "Jimmie the Kid", "Miss the Mississippi and You", "Looking for a New Mama", "Memphis Yodel", and "Train Whistle Blues". The 113 songs he recorded have hardly ever been out of print. His musical career lasted only six years. He died in 1933 in the Taft Hotel, New York. His last recordings were made in Manhattan less than a week before his death. He had been bedridden for several years before this last session and had to rest on a cot between takes.

Quotation

T for Texas, T for Tennessee,
T for Texas, T for Tennessee,
T for Thelma, that gal made a wreck out of me.

Gonna buy me a shotgun, long as I am tall,
Buy me a shotgun, long as I am tall,
Gonna shoot po' Thelma, just to see her jump and fall.

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2. James Frederick Rodgers (born September 18, 1933) is sometimes classed as a rock and roll singer, but his style was more typical of traditional pop music. Although he was not related to the above, it is possible that the younger Jimmie Rodgers was named for the older one as that was a popular name given to baby boys in the early 1930s.

He was born in Camas, Washington and taught music by his mother, learned to play the piano and guitar, and formed a band while he served in the United States Air Force. Like a number of other entertainers of the era, he was one of the contestants on Arthur Godfrey[?]'s talent show on the radio. When Hugo Peretti[?] and Luigi Creatore[?] left RCA Records to found a new record company, Roulette Records[?], they became aware of Jimmie's talent and signed him up.

In the summer of 1957, he recorded a song called "Honeycomb" which had been done by Bob Merrill[?] three years earlier. It was his first big hit, reaching the top of the charts for four weeks. The following year, he had a number of other hits that reached the top ten on the charts: "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" , "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again", "Secretly", and "Are You Really Mine". In 1959 he had a televised variety show on the NBC network.

In 1962 he moved to the Dot[?] label, and four years later to A&M records[?]. He also appeared in some movies.

In 1967 he had his last top-100 single, "Child of Clay". On December 20, 1967, he was a victim of an assault while driving on the San Diego Freeway[?] in Southern California, receiving a severe beating leading to a fractured skull. This caused an approximately year-long period when he ceased to perform, but eventually returned, though not reaching the top singles chart again. He did, however, make an appearance on the album chart as late as 1969.


Note that there was also a Jimmy Rogers (note the spelling), a blues singer born in 1924.



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