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Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Time Event
RIP Janis Martin - "The Female Elvis"
Saw an obituary in the Post today for an artist I'd only discovered in recent years: rockabilly singer Janis Martin of Danville, VA, billed in the 1950's as "The Female Elvis." She hit fairly big while still in her teens (she was appearing on local TV by the time she was 13, and was signed to a record contract by 15. Two years later, her label dumped her after finding out she'd been married (and got pregnant) during that time. Her highest charting single was "Will You Willyum), which hit #35. After living quietly in Danville for years (and re-marrying twice!), she started performing again during the rockabilly revival of the 1980s (hwe song "Drug Store Rock & Roll" was apparently big in Europe at the time.)

I learned about Janis a few years back when I saw "Welcome to the Club: the Women of Rockabilly" at the SXSW film festival in Austin, TX. It was a slightly longer version of a made-for-PBS documentary about the pioneering women of the early rock & roll years, now only remembered by a small number. The focus was particularly on Janis, Wanda Jackson, and Lorrie Collins (featured with her younger brother Larry). Janis came across as a really cool gal, a pleasant rock & roll grandma. If I'd tried at all, I could have managed to see her perform in the last few years (she'd been doing shows throughout southern VA, as well as occasional gigs in Vegas or Europe.) Yet another missed opportunity.

Condolences to Janis'  friends and family, if any happen to read this.

Some links:
Janis' MySpace page (includes some sample songs).
Janis Martin wikipedia page.
Purchase Janis' complete '50s recordings.

Current Mood: sad

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