Newsletter for September 2018



We will have 2018 BRC Hall of Fame inductee Victoria Hallman as our special guest at our September meeting. Victoria was with us during our record show last month. She was selling her just published book, signing autographs and just having fun with all that stopped by to meet her. If you missed meeting her at the show or didn’t get a chance to get a copy of her book then don’t miss the September meeting. We look forward to having her with us as our guest.


Our October meeting WILL NOT be held at the library. Our meeting will be held at the Alabama Historical Radio Society. Having a meeting there has been discussed for a while and now we are doing it. There are many displays I think that everyone will find interesting, especially the Joe Rumore area where, thanks to our own Ray Edwards, Joe’s own radio equipment he used to broadcast his radio shows from his basement has been restored and is set up as though it could be used once again. Along with displays like that the society also has many antique radios they have collected over the years. ARHS will also have a member there to discuss the group’s history. Don’t miss this interesting and informative meeting. The address is 1759 18th Street North downtown Birmingham. The entrance is the back door. November we will be back at the library but it will be the 1st Sunday and we’ll meet down the hall in our former meeting room.


Once again we had another very successful record show. Thanks to all who were able to attend and to those who volunteered in some way or another. We are estimating that about 800 record collectors, enthusiast, music lovers, and those who are checking out the hobby attended. We now take a break and look forward to the show in 2019.


One of my favorite genres of music is the ‘girl group/girl rocker’ style. I enjoy the girls singing, especially those who have the deeper, gruff sound and aren’t afraid to rock. I started thinking a while back about the ladies who had songs that charted that would really fit into the category of the female Elvis, Jerry Lee, Bo, Chuck, Gene Vincent or Eddie Cochran. Those guys who had many hits and would really rock both with voice and movements – and did anybody go crazier on stage than Jerry Lee or snarl more than Vincent. Of course Janis Martin was penned the Female Elvis, so it is said by both RCA and Elvis. She had signed with RCA just two months after Elvis had signed. Although her style at the time may have mocked Elvis she only had one charted record, ‘Will You Willyum’. That song reached # 35 in 1956. So I guess what I am saying is, was the American public ready for a lady to enter into the male-dominated rock side of the music industry at the time – 1955-1959?

Not that the ladies didn’t try to rock with the best of them. Besides Janis Martin during the time span of 1955-59 we had Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Georgia Gibbs, Fontane Sisters, Bobbettes, LaVern Baker, Ruth Brown, and others who would throw in a rock style song into their repertoire but weren’t known for that style. To me the closest performers to the male rocker style may have been Wanda Jackson and Tina Turner. When Tina and Ike were recording together she was as good as any male rocker on stage and vinyl. But their first charted record would not come until 1960 – ‘A Fool In Love’. That song along with ‘I Idolize You’, ‘It’s Gonna Work Out Fine’, ‘Poor Fool’, and ‘Tra La La La’ set the tone for what would be many charted songs for the duo that had Tina snarling, screaming, shaking, and dancing all over the stage. Her style to me would be as close to the Presley, Lewis style as any female. And with ‘River Deep-Mountain High’, ‘Proud Mary’, and ‘Nutbush City Limits’ in their future, she really did show she could rock with the best of the guys. But she wasn’t recording and charting records during the ’55-59 era.

I was fortunate enough to see Tina in person when she began a return to the business somewhere around 1984. She, I believe was the opening act for Lionel Richie. I still remember her being all over the stage that night. All it takes is to go to youtube and look up any of her live performances to see just how much she moved across the stage and gave the song all she had with her gruff voice.

Now, Wanda Jackson is one of my favorite female singers of the time. She began as a country artist but while touring with Elvis, he convinced her to try rockabilly. Her own composition, ‘Mean, Mean Man’ told a story that not many females were singing about at the time and in such a way. Gruff, snarling, and she loved that man no matter what. Then throw in ‘Let’s Have A Party’, ‘Fujiyama Mama’, ‘Riot In Cell Block # 9’, ‘Tounge Tied’, and so many more. I think her youtube video of ‘Hard Headed Woman’ says a lot about her thoughts when it comes to rockers. I have said for many years that the most romantic song written is ‘My Girl’ and in 2nd place is ‘Wild Thing’. In her 1958 video performing on Town Hall Party, she introduces ‘Hard Headed Woman’ as ‘one of the most beautiful love songs ever written’. Click here to see it. Then she begins to tear it up on stage, or maybe rip it up fits better. But Wanda only had one such rocker chart – ‘Let’s Have a Party’. Shortly after he would revert back into her country roots and have a long career in music. I’ve seen her twice since 2009 and she still likes to sing the rockers.

No, I’m not a music historian or do I know every female who recorded a rocker but just thinking about the ladies who were known on the charts during the emergence of rock & roll made me wonder was there at least one who really fit into the ‘female Elvis’ genre. Now don’t get me wrong there were lots and lots of female acts who sang real 50’s rock, but those ladies didn’t hit the national charts. Maybe some got local air-play but nothing to amount to anything. Ladies such as Joyce Green (‘Black Cadillac’ – one of the best chick rockers ever), Betty Nickel (‘Hot Dog’ – give that one a listen), Linda & The Epics (‘Gonna Be Loved’ – any song with cars, school, and the word chick in it has to be a rocker), Alabama’s own, Rose Maddox (‘Hey Little Dreamboat’) gave rock a try and did very well but never a charted song. Barbara Pittman (‘I Need A Man’), recorded for Sam Phillips on the Sun label, Jean Chapel (‘Welcome To The Club’) started on Sun and went to RCA. This song along with her ‘I Won’t be Rocking Tonight’ were the flip side of an EP with two Elvis’ songs in 1956. The list goes on and on of the ladies who were rocking in the early days – 1955-59, find in this article.

So to state it succinctly – the ladies were out there during 1955-59 who could rock with the best of the guys but they didn’t get the air-play, thus they didn’t hit the national charts. I don’t know if it was the radio station GM’s, DJ’s, or the lack of record label companies promoting such acts and songs that may compete against the guys but I do know there are lots of good recordings out there to be found if you like the female/chick rocker style of music. Keep on searching!


Don’t forget to check out all the new internet radio shows the club has on its website. Go to and click on ‘RADIO’.


I Need Man
Barbara Pittman
(1956 – Sun 253))


Will You, Willyum
Janis Martin
(1956 # 35)

See ya,


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