Wanda Jackson Chats With Maggie Rose On ‘Salute The Songbird’ Podcast

Hear the "Queen of Rockabilly" discuss her legendary career.

By Nate Todd Aug 3, 2022 3:32 pm PDT

“Queen Of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson is Maggie Rose’s guest on the latest episode of JamBase partner Osiris Media’s Salute The Songbird With Maggie Rose podcast. Jackson talks about her early career as a rock ‘n’ roll pioneer alongside Elvis Presley and others as well as the struggle of being a woman in the male-dominated music industry and more.

Rose began the conversation by giving some background on how Jackson got her start with a radio segment on Oklahoma City’s KLPR. “I had to be talked into it,” Jackson recalled, “…the disc jockey dedicated the last 15 minutes to local talent…if you could carry a tune, he’d put you on for 15 minutes. So my friends at church talked me into it…I didn’t think I could ever do it, I wanted to, but I was kinda backward. So anyway, I did. I went up there and they went with me and applauded real loud and the disc jockey asked me to come back.”

Wanda then related how she won her own 15-minute slot right after the five-o-clock news and that the radio station told her if she could hold down a sponsor, she could keep the slot. So the 14-year-old worked hard to keep sponsorship. Jackson then recalled a great story, noting that she performed with just her voice and guitar. Her parents said they heard a “thump thump thump” that they didn’t hear when other people sang. “I got to noticing that it was my foot tapping on the base of the microphone.”

Wanda went on to talk about her legendary career beginning with meeting country singer Hank Thompson, who heard her radio show as he arrived into town for a gig and asked the young singer to join him onstage. Jackson then discussed some of her early hit records like “Let’s Have A Party” as well as being the only woman touring with fellow rock pioneers like Elvis Presley. “They were all upstarts like myself. And for about five minutes I was more popular than all of ‘em,” Wanda said with a laugh.

Jackson goes on to talk about the struggle of trying to continue her career as a woman in the male-dominated music industry and tells the story of how another Elvis, Elvis Costello, who is a huge fan and collaborator of Jackson’s, insisted that Wanda Jackson be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as the pioneer that she is. “Elvis really jumped in, he wrote a letter to the powers that be that said ‘the guitar that you’re wanting from me, you’ll never have until it can hang next to Wanda Jackson’s.’”

It’s a fascinating discussion and Wanda also gives some sage advice for anyone in the music business. Listen to Wanda Jackson’s complete chat with Maggie Rose on Salute The Songbird below:

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