Wanda Jackson donates memorabilia, talks future
BY JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
Friday, January 15, 2010
1/18/10 at 11:36 AM
See more about Wanda Jackson's long career at the exclusive Tulsa World site, tulsaworld.com/wanda.
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CATOOSA -- The “Queen of Rock” Wanda Jackson stopped in Friday to greet fans and make a donation to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa.
True to her sultry and sweetly sarcastic reputation, the 72-year-old singer wooed fans with humor and grace, told stories about her career and donated memorabilia that spanned her more than a half-century career as a singer and musician.
The venue is one of a “lucky few” to have one of Jackson’s early performance outfits on display, she said.
“How many of you still have clothes from when you were a teenager?” asked the petite rock icon as she pointed a finger at the crowd and leaned earnestly into her microphone. Only one person raised a hand.
Jackson smiled broadly. “Well. You’re a hoarder,” she belted as her fans, including the accused, erupted in laughter.
She’s widely known as the first woman to record a rock tune, “Let’s Have a Party,” in 1959. She was part of a “boys club” of rambunctious early rockers that included Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and others. Jackson is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was the first female Oklahoman to be inducted. She’s also a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Music and Oklahoma Country Music halls of fame, as well as the International Gospel and German Music halls of fame.
Jackson's career spans rock 'n' roll, rockabilly, country and gospel. She's shared stages with some of the biggest names in modern music history, from Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello.
Jackson’s mother made all of her stage wear, and when something broke or wore out, what could be salvaged would be “recycled” into a new outfit, she said. “So that this Hard Rock has anything like this at all is very rare indeed,” she said.
Now, they’ll have even more, including signed prints, photos and a pink signature Daisy Rock acoustic-electric guitar.
“We tour practically 12 months out of the year all over the globe. No matter where I am in the world, when I see a Hard Rock sign, it’s ‘Heck yeah, I’m home,” she said. “And it’s great that Tulsa and my home state have given me all this recognition.”
The big buzz on this visit was the Queen of Rock’s recent studio work the prince of American rock ‘n’ roll, White Stripes band founder Jack White. It’s the first new material from Jackson in perhaps decades, she and her husband and manager, Wendell Goodman, said.
After the long lines for autographs faded, Jackson sat down to talk to the Tulsa World about her new music.
“Even after all these decades, I’m finding that I’m still doing things that I’ve never done before,” said Jackson. “But when Jack White asks me to do something, I’ll bend over backwards to do it.”
White and Jackson recently paired to record songs she’s never done before – and songs she probably wouldn’t be interested in if it wasn’t for White’s instruction.
“Well, Jack is quite the musician. He really stretched Wanda,” he said at the venue. Goodman is Jackson’s husband of close to 50 years – and also her longtime manager. “These are songs that she would otherwise do.”
Jackson’s working her trademark growly vocals a version of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” and the Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ scorcher “Shakin’ All Over.” The songs will be part of a two-sided, 7-inch vinyl release. The tunes will also be released digitally via iTunes on Jan. 26, she said.
“Jack’s just super terrific,” said Jackson. She said White’s not at all intimated by working with someone who’s been in the business for over half a century.
“I didn’t think I’d like the Amy Winehouse song at all,” admitted Jackson of the 2006, jazzy R&B- and hip-hop influenced tune. “But once I started singing, it all changed. It is a powerful, sweet song.
“To have someone like Jack in my corner, well, he knows exactly what he wants and knows my career better than I do,” she said, then smiled.
Rock and country royalty also showed up to support Jackson’s visit, including longtime Tulsa radio personality Billy Parker, and author and Oak Ridge Boys manager Jim Halsey. Halsey noted that Jack White also penned a tune in which the Oak Ridge Boys recently covered, “Seven Nation Army.” Members of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame were also in the crowd.
Afterward, Jackson signed autographs for a long line of fans young and old – from toddlers to seniors and every age in between.
“I’m busier now than I’ve ever been in my life,” Jackson said after the event. “I can honestly say that. But these days, I take a plane instead of a car and I have bigger crowds. I also make a little more money, and that’s nice, too.”
Her tour plans this year will take her through major cities like New York City, as well as Australia and Europe, she said.
As for what else is coming with new music, Jackson said she’s left it all to White. She will return to his home studio in Nashville next week to record more tunes, she said. One thing she did confirm, though – there will definitely be more singles.
“You’re gonna hear me do some unusual things,” she said with a laugh. “I have high hopes, certainly.”
Wanda Jackson, performing at the Cain's Ballroom in March 2009, was in Tulsa on Friday to donate a guitar and more. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file