On the recommendation of Christopher Kennedy, author of 1950s Radio in Color which I reviewed yesterday, let’s talk about Jimmy Wages. Wages grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi and lived there his whole life. He was the same age as another famous Tupeloian named Elvis and the two were classmates until Elvis’ family moved to Memphis.
When things started heating up with Sun Records, Wages paid them a visit. He ended up recording a handful of cuts with Jack Clement producing, but nothing was ever released on the Sun label. Wages eventually tried to move to other labels with his recordings (all original songs of his own writing), but Sun Records wouldn’t release the recordings to him because they had the “Sun sound” that Clement and Sam Phillips wouldn’t allow to be released on a different label. Wages took a couple other shots at recording over the years, but “nothing ever came out.”
And so, Wages joined the ranks of many other rockabilly hopefuls who recorded for Sun Records, but never got the support they needed to break into success. Phillips’ little label just didn’t have the financial clout to promote everything and everyone they recorded and an amazing amount of great music remained in the can for years.
Thankfully however, many of these recordings–including several of Wages great cuts–survived in the Sun Records vaults and have since been released on various compilations. “Take Me (Garden of Evil)” and the wonderful “Miss Pearl” are beautiful examples of Wages’ frenetic rockabilly style. Wages summed up his own career along with the careers of many others quite aptly when he said, “I’m just one who tried and didn’t make it. Just like thousands of others. I got a lot of company.”
Luckily for us, his songs did eventually “make it” and we have them to listen to now. So, enjoy Jimmy Wages and “Mad Man.”