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Roddy Jackson

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With his gravel-filled vocals and piano-pounding antics, Roddy Jackson was sort of a West Coast version of Jerry Lee Lewis in the late '50s, and although his career never really took off into the stratosphere, his legacy is a solid one, and he is one of the last true rockabilly pioneers still out on the circuit. Born as George Roderick Jackson in California around 1940, Jackson fronted the multi-racial Blue Notes out of Merced, CA, beginning in 1956, but once signed to Art Rupe's Specialty Records imprint, Jackson became essentially a solo act and none of the Blue Notes (the band, without Jackson, has a single album out on CD as the Merced Blue Notes) ever played on any of his records, a situation Jackson was never really happy about. Specialty released three Jackson singles in 1958 and 1959, all produced by Sonny Bono, "I've Got My Sights on Someone New"/"Love at First Sight," the double-sided classic "Hiccups"/"Moose on the Loose," and "Any Old Town"/"Gloria." Jackson was the real deal, an exciting performer who shouted out his material with explosive force, pummeling the piano like it was a personal threat to his well-being, and occasionally showing off his considerable saxophone skills as well. Unfortunately, Jackson, although he was certainly deserving, never broke through to mass success with the public, and he remains a somewhat mysterious and revered figure to serious fans of true rockabilly. Ace Records finally released what amounts to Jackson's collected recorded work on CD as Central Valley Fireball in 2007, which includes both sides of all three of his singles as well as previously unissued period tracks, audition tapes, and home recordings. Jackson still lives in California, doing occasional local shows and also the oldies and festival circuits, where his powerful, eccentric, and electrifying stage presence has lost none of its explosive energy over the last five decades. ~ Steve Leggett