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July 15 2019

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July 14 2019

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Anyone can be cool but not Cordell Jackson Cool.

Originally from Pontotoc, Mississippi, Cordell Jackson (July 15, 1923 – October 14, 2004) is thought to be the first woman to record Cramps-sounding demos since the late-’40s and produce, engineer, arrange and promote singles -now collector’s items- by her or other acts on her own r'n’r music label, Moon Records, since the mid-’50s, strumming on her guitar and making music reminiscent of the Cramps and the Velvet Undergroundbefore the world was even officially introduced to R’n’R.

“…Young Cordell learned how to play the guitar, piano, and upright bass. At the age of 12 she was performing on her father’s radio show (…) she’s known for playing her trademark Hagstrom electric guitar.

…started a new life in Memphis. In 1947 with the purchase of her recording equipment, Cordell became a woman of many firsts: Jackson wanted to sign with Sun Records label [the first company to record Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash], but was unable to break into the label’s established group of male artists…

…In 1956 Jackson founded Moon Records and released her first single under her Moon label, “Bebopper’s Christmas.” In her home studio she served as an engineer, producer, and arranger, releasing and promoting singles. Artists under Cordell’s label consisted of herself and a small group of rock and roll, rockabilly, and country performers that she recruited from several Southern states. Jackson made music history as the first female recording engineer in the United States. She is counted as the first woman to write, sing, accompany, record, engineer, produce and manufacture a record…”


Throughout the 70’s, 80’s  and ‘90s Jackson remained active in the music scene. Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and Alex Chilton helped create new interest in her career in the ‘80s by covering some of her Moon label’s old singles like “Dateless Night” and “She’s the One That’s Got It”. She appeared on MTV and on various national talk shows in the ‘90s, as well as in  films and even a beer commercial with Stray Cats’ frontman Brian Setzer.

“Rock-and-Roll Granny”, as she was nicknamed, performed with various artists, such as Miriam Linna’s The A-Bones and released her only solo full-length album to date, “Cordell Jackson: Live in Chicago” in the mid-’90s.

Moon Records label was the oldest continuously operating label in Memphis at the time of her death in 2004.

In case all this got you interested, here’s how she really sounded (and by god, can I hear The Cramps all over her sound):

Cordell Jackson with The A-Bones (1989)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbRVPYTU7Xo

Live in Chicago (1995): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWSWPjW6Ff0

“Memphis Moon Rock” by Cordell Jacksonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRGrQCzOg8o&app=desktop

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