JIMMIE LOGSDON (a.k.a. JIMMY LLOYD)
Born James Lloyd Logsdon, 1 April 1922, Panther, Kentucky
During the years 1956 and 1957, Jimmie Logsdon was one of several country singers who recorded a few rockabilly numbers under a pseudonym (in his case Jimmy Lloyd), in order not to alienate his existing country fan base. He never had a national hit in his career, but is still remembered today, especially for his two rockabilly singles on Roulette.
Logsdon was born on April Fools' Day 1922, in Panther, Kentucky. His father’s duties as a minister caused the Logsdon family to move frequently within the state of Kentucky. For the first fifteen years of his life, Jimmie was mainly exposed to gospel music. When the family lived in southeastern Kentucky, Jimmie heard blues and secular country music for the first time. Later he also latched on to rhythm and blues.
In 1940 Logsdon graduated from high school in Ludlow, Kentucky, and in the autumn of that year he married his first wife. He found a job in Cincinnati, installing public-address systems. Next he spent two years in the Air Force (1944-1946), stationed in Texas where he was put to work as a lineman, repairing damaged B-17s. Out of the service, Jimmie opened a radio shop in La Grange, Kentucky. He picked up records to resell and, after two years, decided that he would take a stab at the music business. He bought a guitar, taught himself to play and cut some demos. From 1950 until 1952 he had his own daily fifteen-minute program on radio WLOU in Louisville, then switched to competing station WINN for a post as senior announcer.
In 1951 he had formed his own trio and got the chance to make a record, financed by Art Rhodes, a Louisville businessman. “It’s All Over”/“Road of Regret” was issued in December 1951 on the Harvest label. When Logsdon was booked to open a show for Hank Williams (his idol) in Louisville, Hank was impressed by his performance and recommended Logsdon to Paul Cohen, who ran the Nashville division of Decca Records. Jimmie’s first Decca single, “I Wanna Be Mama’d” came out in December 1952. It was followed by a double-sided tribute to Hank Williams (who died on 1st January, 1953), “Hank Williams Sings the Blues No More”/“The Death of Hank Williams”. On some of his subsequent recordings, Logsdon was backed by the nucleus of Hank’s old band, the Drifting Cowboys. His career received a boost in 1953, when he became the host of a live country show on WHAS-TV, which also featured his backup group, the Golden Harvest Boys. Logsdon’s work for Decca was predominantly composed of country songs, but some of them verged on rockabilly. After Decca had dropped him in late 1954, Logsdon’s career took a dive, when the aftermath of a messy divorce drove him to drugs and a six-month stay in hospital. Vic McAlpin, his agent (also a prolific songwriter), got him onto Dot Records where he cut four songs in September 1955 and thence went to Starday for one release.
It was McAlpin’s idea to get Logsdon recording in the rockabilly vein. Two sessions for Roulette were held in Owen Bradley’s studio in August/September 1957, with the Nashville A-Team. His first release was in the short-lived Roulette country series : “Where the Rio de Rosa Flows”/ “Beginning Of the End” (Roulette 7001). The former was written by Logsdon in 1951 with Moon Mullican in mind and, with a few touches from McAlpin, was transformed into a rockabilly tune. Carl Perkins would record it for a Columbia LP in June 1958. To avoid confusion with his country records, Jimmie assumed the alias of Jimmy Lloyd for his Roulette repertoire. The record did well in several markets and earned Logsdon a spot on the Louisiana Hayride. The second single appeared in the regular Roulette series and is one of the all-time best double-sided rockabilly platters. “I Got A Rocket In My Pocket”/“You’re Gone Baby” failed to chart, but went on to become one of the most sought-after records in rockabilly history.
However, Roulette dropped him after the second single and Logsdon’s rockabilly career was over. Jimmie himself realized that, at thirty-five, he was probably a little too old to be rocking or rolling. For the next few years he concentrated on radio work, mainly in Cincinnati. In 1962 he recorded a few EPs with gospel music for his own label. The next year he was signed by King Records, for which company he recorded six singles and an album (1963-64). Meanwhile he continued to work for various radio stations in Kentucky and Alabama. In the early 1970s Logsdon recorded two instrumental LPs for the Crown label, credited to Jimmy Lloyd. He quit disc-jockeying in 1972 and took up a post with the Kentucky Labor Department in 1973. In 1981 he recorded one last album, for the Je-Wel label. In later years he worked in his brother-in-law’s swimming pool business and augmented his income by making commercials and singing in nightclubs.
Jimmie Logsdon died of unknown causes in Louisville on October 7, 2001, aged 79.
More info : http://www.rockabillyhall.com/JimmieLogsdon.html
Further reading : Jimmie Logsdon : The Man Without A Subtitle, in : Nick Tosches, Unsung Heroes Of Rock ’n’ Roll (1991), page 150-154.
CD : I Got A Rocket In My Pocket (Bear Family BCD 15650). 29 tracks, his complete 1950s recordings. Released in 1993. Liner notes by Colin Escott (reproduced in his 1996 book “Tattooed On Their Tongues”, page 25-31).
Acknowledgements : Colin Escott, Nick Tosches, Adam Komorowski.
Dik, September 2017
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