Rockabilly Legend Wanda Jackson: "I Do Music People Like"

Categories: Inquiring Minds

RO: I know that you have seen a big popularity surge, especially in Europe, because of your work with artists like Jack White and touring with Adele. What was it like working and touring with those artists -- especially Adele?

WJ: Well, I thought she [Adele] was a sweetheart. I didn't get an opportunity to hang out with her because, when you're on tour, your time is pretty tightly scheduled. You have places to be, interviews to do, miles to make, airplanes to catch.

She would usually come by just about every night, poke her head in and say hi. She met a lot of my friends and was kind to stand and take photos. She was just your girl-next-door-type. She's a gal I'd like to have as a neighbor.

RO: How has this popularity surge affected your career?

WJ: It's done a lot for my career. I'm working larger venues, therefore I am drawing much bigger crowds. I just returned from about a month in Germany and Austria. Right before we did The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, we flew from Berlin to Los Angeles. That was a long one. Every venue that I worked there were larger places and much larger crowds. It's made a big difference, even in Europe.

RO: I know many country, soul and rock legends have cited you as an influence or been fans, a rarity. How does it make you feel to know that you've had that kind of influence?

WJ: It truly is awesome. I had no idea that I was making that kind of an influence on everybody, especially artists of that stature. I figured they had their own influences, but I certainly didn't think I was one of them, so it's very exciting when you find out people like that had been listening to you, [and I] encouraged or influenced them in some way.

wandaj with elvis.jpg
RO: I know that you have toured in the past with the likes of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many other rock legends. What was it like touring with those guys?

WJ: He [Elvis] was the first person I actually toured with, so I didn't know what to expect. I had nothing really to compare it to. But I know we had a lot of fun. All of those guys were my buddies because we worked together so much for a year and a half.

Jerry Lee and I still work together every once in awhile. We're at festivals in London and places like that. It was great and proved to be great for my career. Elvis is the one that tried to talk me into doing the new kind of music [rockabilly], which actually didn't even have a name in 1955 -- it was just "Elvis' kind of music."

I didn't think I could do it. He's the one that encouraged me. He said, "I know you can do it and you need to be doing it if you wanna sell a lot of records. You need to do the songs that young people are buying." He said that "young people are beginning to buy the records. " All of that was something new.

Wanda Jackson performs with Jonny Fritz and the Beans, 7 p.m. tonight at Fitzgerald's (upstairs), 2706 White Oak,

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