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When it comes to rockabilly, there’s only one queen – and that’s Wanda Jackson. Vintage Rock meets the legend to talk about her early country records, her influence on stars of today like Jack White and Adele, and early rock’n’roll awakenings with Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis…
Wanda Jackson is one of the first popular female rockabilly singers and a pioneering rock’n’roll artist

WandaJackson is a living legend with a wealth of stories to tell. In her new autobiography, Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey To The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, co-written with Scott B. Bomar, Jackson sheds light on how, as a 16-year-old high school student, she shared the spotlight and held her own with the early raucous men of rock’n’roll such as Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis…

“Well, back then, he was already pretty wild,” remembers Wanda of a 50s show she shared with notorious rock legend, Jerry Lee. “This one time, we stopped at an auditorium for what today would be called a soundcheck. So Jerry Lee goes in to check the piano, to see what he’s got to work with. He became so angry at the piano that they’d gotten for him, an old upright with keys that were stuck and pedals that didn’t work, he said to me: ‘Before I leave here, I’m gonna tear this thing up’. He did a pretty good job; bashed in the bottom part of it, and broke the stool!”

She was born Wanda Lavonne Jackson in the small rural town of Maud, Oklahoma, on 20 October, 1937, during the period in America known as The Great Depression. These were hard times for many families like the Jacksons, and they struggled just to survive. Young Wanda showed a musical aptitude at only six, when she was given her first guitar. By her early teens, she became a local radio star, with a daily show on Oklahoma’s KLPR-AM station.

In 1955, she was already working shows that included a young Elvis and such future stars as Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash. As Jackson recalls: “I just remember him being very quiet and maybe a little backward. I’d see him off by himself leanin’ against the wall, havin’ a cigarette, instead of being with the other performers, but maybe he didn’t want to be around us young folks Elvis and I would watch all of his performances, and he said: ‘That guy is gonna be the biggest thing in country music’, and he was right.”

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About Vintage Rock

Vintage Rock magazine is an all-out celebration of rock'n'roll to satisfy the largest of appetites. Each issue we bring you exclusive artist interviews and in-depth features, plentiful reviews of the latest releases and live events – plus we keep you up to date with all the latest happenings on the rockin' scene. Whether revisiting the giants of rockabilly, rock'n'roll and R&B past, or highlighting the fresh talent that's pushing rock'n'roll forward, we deliver the lot.