Popular '50's / '60's Singer Jimmie Rodgers passed away on Monday, January 18th. No official cause of death was given.
Signed to Morris Levy’s Roulette Records, Rodgers hit #1 with his very first release, “Honeycomb,” back in 1957. Over the course of the next year, he would hit The Top Ten four more times: “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” (#3, 1957), “Oh-Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again” (#7, 1958), “Secretly” (#2, 1958) and “Are You Really Mine,” #10, 1958. (“Bimbombey” just missed, peaking at #11 to close out 1958.)
The early 1960’s weren’t quite as kind, although Jimmie continued to make The Top 50 with tunes like “I’m Never Gonna Tell” (#36, 1959), “Because They’re Young” (#41, 1959), “Ring-A-Ling-A-Lario” (#32, 1959), “Wonderful You” (#40, 1959), “Tucumcari” (#32, 1959), “T.L.C. Tender Love And Care” (#23, 1960), “Waltzing Matilda” (#41), “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” (#44, 1960), “The Wreck Of The ‘John B.’” (#41, 1960, remade a few years later to greater success by The Beach Boys as “Sloop John B.”) and “No One Will Ever Know” (#43, 1962).
As was the case with countless American artists, Jimmie’s career was pushed out of the limelight by The British Invasion … but despite the fact that the next music phase took us to heavier sounds, Rodgers came back in 1966 and 1967 with “It’s Over” (#31) and “Child Of Clay” (#30) respectively.
It is believed that that last release, recorded after jumping ship to A&M Records, is what got him beaten nearly to death along a highway after he was pulled over by an “off-duty policeman” in 1967. Story goes that mobster and Roulette Records label boss, Morris Levy, was none to happy about Rodgers moving on to another record label … and then having a hit there … so this incident was staged to teach him a lesson. Jimmie was so badly beaten that a metal plate had to be put in his head in order to reform and recreate his scalp. The circumstances were pretty much career ending.
It was in the early 2000’s, when that plate began
to cause Rodgers some life-threatening problems, that we were contacted by Jimmie’s
son Michael. We helped to get the word
out to all of his fans about Jimmie’s condition … and the dangerous new surgery
he was about to undergo to see if the half-dollar size hole in his head, created by
complications resulting from that metal plate, could be closed through bone and scalp
reconstructive surgery. The surgery was
a success, and Michael stayed in touch with us for several years, often giving
positive progress reports about his father’s medical condition. At some point, Jimmie even tried singing
again. (His son Michael became a performer as well.)
[Check out our original series below, tracing all of these developments ... it really is quite fascinating!]
We take this one as a bit of a personal loss since we were so close to the circumstances at the time. Jimmie, we’ll miss you … but your great music lives on. (kk)