Ladies and gentlemen of Eugene, you are being visited by a bona-fide country music legend, rock ‘n’ roll survivor and veritable time capsule of pop — Wanda Jackson.
Known as the Queen of Rockabilly, Jackson has been a recording artist since the mid ‘50s. Scoring some minor hits with classics like Fujiyama Mama, Jackson blended country swing with the driving 4/4 beat of this new style of music called rock-n-roll. For generations, her voice has had an incalculable influence on both male and female pop singers — equal parts homespun songbird, Elvis’ curled upper lip, and the rhythmic hiccups and hoots of Buddy Holly and Little Richard.
Jackson, who briefly dated Elvis, went on to further success in the ‘60s and ‘70s pioneering the Wild-West-meets-modern-glamour sound known as countrypolitan. However, she never quite reached the level of notoriety enjoyed by some of her contemporaries, perhaps due to her being a woman, or perhaps due to that inexplicable phenomenon in pop music where artists never gain much traction outside of purists and cult-fans.
In 2009, Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an “early influence.” Having never stopped recording or playing to rockabilly revivalists overseas, this marked the start of her comeback, punctuated by the release of 2011’s The Party Ain’t Over with Jack White of the White Stripes. While sounding at times like Jackson is performing with White’s pistol in her back, the record is a commanding return to form. She confidently handles Dylan’s “Thunder on The Mountain,” and adds an aged authenticity to the late Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good” that proves this Fujiyama Mama can still blow her top.
Wanda Jackson plays with Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside 8 pm Thursday, April 19, at WOW Hall; $20 adv., $25 door.