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Elvis writes to Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame to get Wanda Jackson Inducted
Jam!, 2005-05-26
Mary Dickie

Wanda Jackson ignored by Rock Hall

By MARY DICKIE - Toronto Sun

Wanda Jackson is a rockabilly pioneer who has been recording since 1954, and continues to play sold-out shows around the world.

The Oklahoma-born singer/guitarist toured with (and dated) Elvis in the '50s and was one of the first women to sing rock 'n' roll. As such, she's influenced nearly every woman who has picked up a guitar since -- but she has not been inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. James Taylor is in there, and Bob Seger and Jackson Browne and the Shirelles and even Jann Wenner, but shockingly, not Wanda Jackson.

"Nobody seems to know why," she says. "I know there's lots of people involved in the process, and it's very secretive. I'm thinking maybe they're younger people who didn't go back far enough and check out the roots. But it'll happen, God willing."

At 67, Jackson is not overly concerned about it, although she was delighted when Elvis Costello wrote a scathing letter to the Hall of Fame in protest. She's just glad that fans continue to come and see her play sassy hits like Mean Mean Man, Let's Have A Party and Riot In Cellblock #9.

"What's cute is when they come out in their vintage clothes and the hairdos like we used to wear, and I think, 'Well, no wonder I'm enjoying myself, it's making me feel like a teenager!' "

Jackson became a Christian in 1971, and stuck to gospel for more than a decade, after which she recorded and toured mostly in Europe. In 2003 she came back with Heart Trouble, which featured guest spots from Costello, The Cramps, Rosie Flores, Stray Cat Lee Rocker and Dave Alvin. In fact, her duet with Costello on Crying Time makes her one of the few people to have performed with both Elvises.

"Yes, that's one of my claims to fame," she laughs. "My husband said, 'That's all I need -- another Elvis in my life.' The poor guy, he has to hear me talk about Elvis all the time. But it's all right. He kind of prides himself on being the guy who beat Elvis out. He even lets me wear Elvis' ring sometimes."

Then last year, fans like Flores, Neko Case, Kelly Hogan, Robbie Fulks and the Bottle Rockets put out a tribute album called Hard Headed Woman.

"I was thrilled to death that there were all these kids taking the time to learn the songs," she says.

But the icing on her cake will be the R'N'R Hall of Fame. "They can't ignore me forever," she says. "I'm something they're going to have to deal with."