Friday, May 8, 2009

Jimmie Rodgers - Part 2

Several folks who were not on the list back in 2007 when the Jimmie Rodgers story broke have written in asking for more details.

Yesterday we recounted how Jimmie sustained his injury in the first place. (This episode has been a matter of GREAT debate for forty years ... but we stated the facts as reported by BOTH sides involved in the incident. Sadly, Jimmie had to live with the outcome of that fateful night for the next forty years of his life. During that time, he never had another record reach the pop charts.)

We found a number of pieces in the archives surrounding Jimmie's 2007 surgery and feel it's easiest to replay these pretty much the way we received them. A greater outpouring of love, appreciation and prayer for an artist throughout the oldies community would be hard to imagine ... and to this day Michael Rodgers believes that it was the combination of this love and prayers from all of his Father's friends and fans that pulled him through this very critical time.

Here is how it all began ... FH List Member Tom Diehl forwarded us a copy of a letter that he received from Jimmie's son Michael, which we immediately ran in our daily Forgotten Hits Newsletter:

Hello Everyone!
My name is Michael Rodgers. My Father's name is Jimmie Rodgers. Some of you might remember him from his musical career that has now spanned fifty years. In 1957 he recorded a song called "Honeycomb" and followed it up with a string of hit records totaling 25 top ten singles, eighty million records sold worldwide and concert appearances throughout the world.
Through all of that he carried himself with grace, charm and an incredible sense of humor and style. In 1967 when he was 33 years old my Father was injured in what is now known as a road rage incident. He suffered severe head injuries and underwent three brain surgeries. During one of those surgeries, he lost 28 square inches of his skull on the right side of his head. Since 1968 he has carried what is considered to be the largest steel plate ever implanted in someone's head.
It took Dad nearly 15 years to recover from the last surgery in 1968 as he had to learn to walk, speak and regain his motor skills. He was not supposed to live more than 10 years with this steel plate in his body as the body continually tries to reject these kind of implants. Over the years as he has gotten older the skin on his scalp has gotten thinner and the remaining bone continually cuts his scalp. If left this way, this situation will eventually lead to his death.
Over the last 15 years he has had over 60 different skin graphs and other surgeries. The last such surgery was 18 months ago and it nearly killed him. He now has a hole in his head the size of a half dollar and it has been this way since February.
My Dad is tough. He is the definition of the word. He has avoided what is about to take place and tried everything imaginable to live with the constant pain and discomfort and he has now made a decision that will define what will be the rest of his life. On Thursday June 28, 2007, a team of Brain Surgeons in Hot Springs, Arkansas, will remove the steel plate that he has carried with him for 39 years. They plan to remove the outer layer of skin and lift the plate away from the position it has held covering the outer layer of his brain. If successful, they will replace the plate with a new material that has been developed that will recreate the skull bone and will not be rejected by the body.
If this surgery works he will have the chance to live what is left of his life without pain. Dad has made the decision. The doctors feel confident that all will be fine and we are stepping out on faith that this is the right course of action.
As someone who some of you know to be a fairly private person, I am opening up to you about a very serious family issue. From now until the end of next week, and beyond if possible, I kindly ask you all to please do the following:
*** Please pray for my Father that his surgery and recovery will be successful and that his health will be completely restored.

*** Please pray for the team of doctors and nurses that will be performing the surgery so that they might have guidance and wisdom during this time.
*** Please pray for our family that we might have strength and courage to face the days ahead in helping Dad with his recovery.
*** Please put my Father, Jimmie Rodgers, on your prayer lists at church or through an email request such as this one. (Feel free to copy and send). All of us are connected in this life in some way. I believe there is power in prayer and power in positive thought. I believe that together all of us, through prayer and positive energy and thinking, can help that to happen.
Thank you all for being a part of and playing a part (large or small) in my life.
Name: Jimmie Rodgers
Date of Surgery: June 28, 2007
My family and I thank you. And my Father thanks you and will be most appreciative to you for your thoughts and prayers.
God Bless,
Michael Rodgers

As soon as a copy of this letter ran in Forgotten Hits, we received a flood of prayers and well-wishes for Jimmie Rodgers. Several of the deejays on the list picked up the story and went on the air with it the very same day. Here are just a few of the touching emails that we received a day or two after this piece first ran:

Whoa ... the Jimmie Rodgers story as related by his son just brought me to tears! God Bless Jimmie, and may he rally through this surgery! God help him!
Wild Bill Cody

Oh my God, Kent.
I had no idea all of this had happened to Jimmie Rodgers. I am so sorry. Thank you so much for passing the message on. Jimmie certainly has my prayers.


Regarding Jimmie Rodgers, it is important to note that he was a folk rock pioneer 50 years ago – well before Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, The Kingston Trio or any of the other leaders of the folk-rock boom that really began with Rodgers’ string of more than two dozen ‘50s and ‘60s hits. His only significant predecessors in the folk-rock genre – The Weavers, The Easy Riders, The Tarriers, etc. – all spent relatively short spells as national hitmakers. I’m glad you chose “Child Of Clay” as an example of Jimmie at his best. I included it in one of the folk box sets I produced for Reader’s Digest Music along with it’s flip side – an incredibly moving version (perhaps the best ever made) of the timeless and thoughtful folk standard “Turn Around.”

Gary Theroux
"Child Of Clay" has always been one of my favorite Jimmie Rodgers tunes ... and it proved to be QUITE the comeback hit for him when A&M released it in the Fall of '67. (It became his LAST chart hit in fact!) kk

Hey Kent,

What could be weirder than this: As I started to read Tom Diehl's posting regarding Jimmie Rodgers, what should Scott Shannon be saying but a plug for Forgotten Hits, mention of the email address for the60sShop, and a quick review of the letter, and then he played Honeycomb. It just finished. Go Kent and Scott!Guy Arnston in Algonquin

My prayers are with Jimmie Rogers. I remember that incident well. It was all so murky. In those days the "Blue Wall" was in place and cops, drunk or sober were given a pass ,and whether on duty or not, you crossed them at your peril. He received $200,000 in settlement for a quiet, gentle, musical life shattered. Dolph

Hello again Kent!
I had no idea anything happened to Jimmie Rodgers. I am glad he is recovering. I appreciate his son letting us know he is doing OK. Kent, I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your efforts. You add quality to my life. Every time you send me the latest, I feel like I have won something. Everyone on your list has to appreciate your intelligence and journalistic abilities and your from-the-heart-drive to keep this music alive. You are a real hero to me. I sincerely wish all the best to you and Frannie. I don't know how to thank you.
Pat Fogel

We forwarded a good number of these sentiments to Michael Rodgers ... and, a few days later, we received our next update ... ALL good news ... MIRACULOUS news, in fact!!! Check this out:

Miracles do happen and one happened this morning. The surgery began this morning with a group prayer with the doctors and family. About four minutes after beginning, the doctors pulled back the scalp to reveal the plate. When they did that, the plate literally jumped up away from his head. The doctors, five in all ... a Neuro Surgeon, Two Plastic Surgeons, Two Stem Cell Specialists and the rest of the team ... began to clean the plate and lift it away from the head. It released itself and came away clean. On the video we could hear the Neuro Surgeon say "Oh my God, look at that. How did that get there?"
Under the plate was revealed a complete and intact skull bone where three months ago there was none. The entire hole in the bone which was an eight inch by six inch oval had grown completely closed with a new skull bone which was smooth and shaped to match the existing skull. It was perfect in every way and was the same thickness as the other bone.
The doctors said that in 35 years of surgery they had never seen anything like it. They did not need to recreate a new skull bone at all. Dad was completely healed and made whole again after 40 years.
The stem cell doctors sprayed a stem paste made from Dad's blood over the skull bone and onto the skin flap and the Plastic Surgeons closed him up. The stem paste will keep him from swelling and will encourage skin growth onto the bone. The entire procedure took about 28 minutes and after one hour in recovery Dad walked out of the room on his own, much to the anger and dismay of the nursing staff. He is coming home tomorrow.

And then this ...
He spent one night in the hospital and was released yesterday.
When we left the hospital yesterday he was hungry so we went to a nearby Olive Garden restaurant for lunch. You should have seen everyone's face when Dad walked in with this turban bandage on his head. It was very funny.
As of this morning, June 30, 2007, he went bass fishing and, when I spoke to him about an hour ago, he had landed two.
My Father and our family want to personally thank everyone who has sent emails and well wishes from around the world. Your prayers and positive thoughts were heard and all of our lives have been changed in such an amazing way. We cannot thank you enough.
So if anyone asks you how Jimmie Rodgers is doing, please tell them that he is completely healed and is in perfect health.
God bless you all and than you again so very much.
Michael Rodgers

Michael later told us:
My original email was sent on Monday, June 25th, to about 65 friends and co-workers that I know. That letter was forwarded and here are some of the results and responses that I received.
Within a 48 hour period I received emails from Honduras, Germany, South Africa, England, France, Denmark, Sweden, the Philippines and Italy. As well as from nearly every state in the union including North Pole, Alaska.
Dad was placed on the Australian Prayer Network which reaches over 10,000 prayer partners worldwide. He was also placed in dozens of prayer chains throughout the US and abroad and prayer groups were held the morning of the surgery while it was in progress. Also, I received word that 14 Catholic Churches around the country held a special mass for Dad the morning of the surgery.
On XM Satelitte Radio a DJ named "Matt the Cat", who hosts the 50's on 5 show, paid tribute to Dad the night before the surgery. Dad called in to thank him and Matt said "Jimmie we are going to make you a miracle" and then he played Dad's record of the same name. It was very touching and Dad teared up a little on that one.
Also on XM Radio the Rollye James Show had a tribute program for Dad as well and fans from all over the country called in and said that they were praying for him. This is just an example of the response one email request for prayer can receive when sent to such a limited group of people.
I firmly believe that Dad was healed and given a new skull bone because of the faith of Dad, our family, and so many people throughout the world. Please never forget that prayer works. Prayer is powerful. God is Great!
Please forward this letter to everyone that you might have sent the prayer request to so that they may know the outcome as well.
It was an amazing day.
Prayer is so powerful.
Much Love to you all,
Michael Rodgers
The "Oldies Community" really jumped on the bandwagon on this one ... our sincere thanks to EVERYONE on the list who said a prayer or helped us put the word out to other music fans out there regarding Jimmie's recent battle. (Boy, it SURE is nice to get GOOD news once in a while, isn't it?!?!?) To all the jocks who went out on the air with this ... to EVERY fan who whispered something to The Big Guy Upstairs ... sincere thanks from Jimmie and his family. In a world filled with so much BAD news, this truly is an ASTOUNDING story.
Thanks so much for sharing it with our group, Michael ... many of whom are amongst your Father's biggest, concerned, and loving fans. (kk)

Dear Kent:
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this is by far one of the ultimate and most inspiring pieces I have ever read since I have been a part of the Forgotten Hits family, which has been from the beginning.
Myself, being a Christian woman, can relate to the power in prayer (my two daughters are prayer babies.) It's NO secret what God can do! Jimmie Rodgers, is a living testimony of how awesome our God truly is. His healing could only come from the master physician, our creator. (as his son described in full detail, in his letter to you)
Prayer is powerful!!! God is awesome!!! Jimmie, literally had thousands and thousands of people being intercessors for him and his miracle healing.
Thank you, Jimmie and family for sharing your amazing story with us.
Thank you, Kent for passing it on.
~God bless ALL~
We walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7
Hugs & Prayers
I've passed your sentiment on to the Rodgers family. Isn't it SAD how RARE it is to hear GOOD news these days?!?!? Everyone is SO focused on pointing out all that is wrong ... but this sounds to me to have TRULY been a miracle.

Glad to hear Jimmie Rodgers is doing better after his operation! Hard to believe it's been 50 years since "Honeycomb" hit the charts! Here's an ad from 5/3/58 for "Secretly". Looks like another Elvis to me!! A new version of the song hit the Billboard Easy listening charts 20 years later in '78! Of course, the 1967 incident happened just after his comeback hit, "Child of Clay". By 1969, he had his own short lived TV series, "The Jimmie Rodgers Show" (created by Carol Burnette), so he has been a quick healer all his life, apparently! "Go Jimmy Go"!! WLSClark

It seems only right to feature Jimmie's 1958 Hit "Make Me A Miracle" today ... released as the B-Side to his #4 Hit "Secretly", "Make Me A Miracle" earned enough sales and airplay to chart on its own in Cash Box Magazine, peaking at #31.