Jimmie Rodgers is one of the early rock and roll pioneers. Working with some well known record producers, he put a number of hits on the charts in the late 50's and into the 60's, and he reached the top spot once with his first big hit, Honeycomb.
There have been other artists through the years who have had similar names and they are sometimes confused with this Jimmie Rodgers. One is Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933), real name James Charles Rodgers, who is regarded as the first important country music star. This Jimmie Rodgers was known as The Singing Brakeman and is identified with yodelling and songs such as Muleskinner Blues, T for Texas, and Blue Yodel No. 9. Another musician, Jimmy Rogers (born in 1924 -- note the spelling) was a blues singer who worked mostly in Chicago. And then there is the Jimmie Rodgers that is the subject of this article, who was born James Frederick Rodgers in Camas, Washington in 1933. Although there is no relationship of any kind between any of the three, it is possible that the younger Jimmie Rodgers was named for the older one as that was a popular name given to baby boys in the early 1930's.
As a child, James Frederick Rodgers was taught music by his mother. He learned to play guitar and piano and while serving in the Air Force, he formed a band. He was a contestant on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in the 1950s. He came to the attention of record producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore who had left RCA to set up their own record label which they called Roulette.
Jimmie Rodgers' first big hit came in the Summer of 1957 when he covered a song that had been done by Bob Merrill in 1954 titled Honeycomb. It was a smash hit, topping the pop chart for four weeks and making Jimmie a bonafide star. In the next year he followed it with several more top ten hits: Kisses Sweeter Than Wine (which had been a 1951 hit for the Weavers), Oh-Oh, I'm Falling In Love Again, Secretly, and Are You Really Mine. Rodgers continued to put hits in the top forty on the Roulette label into 1960. In 1959 he hosted his own network variety show on NBC. From 1962 to 1966 he recorded on Dot and then moved to the A&M label. Rodgers also appeared in some movies, including Back Door To Hell and The Little Shepherd From Kingdom Come.
On December 20, 1967 Rodgers was assaulted on the San Diego Freeway. He was beaten severely and suffered a fractured skull. The exact reasons for this beating remain a mystery, although there has been speculation about the reasons for it. Jimmie took off for a time but returned to performing the following year. The last of his twenty-five top 100 singles was Child Of Clay in late 1967. He put albums such as his Windmills Of Your Mind on the albums chart as late as 1969.
Jimmie Rodgers is a talented performer who reached his peak of popularity in the late 50's. His hits are still played on radio stations and he is perhaps most associated with his snappy number one hit Honeycomb.
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