Hear Charline sing part of "Welcome to the Club"
For most of her life, Charline Arthur was viewed as a renegade. A Texas-born musician, she was a hard-living, feisty and opinionated woman - musically and physically aggressive onstage and off. She wore men's slacks and cowboy shirts. She leapt from stage amplifiers. She sang while lying down. In 1950 she landed a daily radio job at KERB in Kermit, Texas as both a DJ and singer. Music entrepreneur Colonel Tom Parker heard her and brought her to the attention of RCA Records in 1952. Because of her singles "Welcome to the Club," "Honey Bun" and "Burn That Candle," she is often cited as a pioneering rockabilly female. RCA dropped her in 1956, and, because of her reputation for being controversial and difficult, no other major record label took her in. In 1969 she revived her career, but arthritis in her hands forced her to retire. She died in her sleep at age 58 in 1987, never fully realizing her place in music history.
Born in 1938, Jo-Ann Campbell was a Jacksonville drum majorette who loved to dance. Her parents moved with the Florida State Twirling Champion to New York in 1954. That year she traveled Europe with the USO as a dancer. The idea was to get her on Broadway, but she was enthralled with rock 'n roll. Jo-Ann began recording in 1957, contributing "Come on Baby," "Wait a Minute," and "Nervous" to the emerging rock 'n roll repertoire. "You're Driving Me Mad" and "Rock and Roll Show" are particularly prized by rockabilly collectors today. The former was banned because of its "drive on, baby" line, which censors thought was too raunchy for a five-foot, nineteen year old blonde to be singing. She sang in the 1958 rock 'n roll movie Go, Johnny, Go! and recorded more teen tunes in 1960. In 1961, she starred in Hey Let's Twist! and recorded "I'm the Girl from Wolverton Mountain" in 1962. Jo-Ann wed singer/songwriter Troy Seals. After the birth of their son, Jo-Ann appeared for a while on Dick Clark's 1965 rock 'n roll TV show Where the Action Is, but eventually she quit entertaining. Jo-Ann campaigns in Nashville for the Humane Association and against the wearing of furs.
With hits like "Satisfied," "I Can't Stand Up Alone," and "Rock-a My Soul," Martha Carson became known as "The Rockin' Queen of Happy Spirituals." In her early teens, Martha was a skilled guitar player in the Sunshine Sister band. Martha, Jean, and Berthy would be one of the first all female sister string bands in the country when they began in 1936. In the early 1940s, Martha married James Roberts while helping to form the WSB Barn Dance in Atlanta. James and Martha would record several spiritual songs together under the Capitol Records label, which gained them great notoriety throughout the South. In 1951 they divorced and she took her act solo. From late 1954 into 1955, Martha toured the south with an up-and-coming artist known as Elvis Presley. At this time, Elvis was recording with the Sun label and had only one record released. Martha recorded two albums for RCA, "Journey to the Sky" and "Rock-a-my-Soul." "Satisfied," a song she wrote in 1950, has been recorded by some 165 different artist from Elvis Presley to Don Gibson to the Blackwood Brothers to Barbara Mandrell.
Barbara Pittman sang stormy up-tempo numbers and sultry ballads suited to the emerging rockabilly style. Her recording output for Sun Records was larger than any other female artist's and included such rockabilly tunes as "I Need a Man" (1956), "I'm Getting Better All the Time" (1957) and "Handsome Man" (1960).
Before recording "Welcome to the Club" in 1956, Jean Chapel had been in country music the longest and in the greatest variety of roles. Philips sold her Sun recording contract to RCA, just as he had done with Elvis. When Chapel passed away in 1995, she had written well over 400 songs with more than 170 songs recorded and released by major artists.
The Davis Sisters
In her mid-teens, Skeeter Davis formed a duo with school friend Betty Jack Davis and together they began to sing in the Lexington, Kentucky area. In 1949, they appeared on local radio WLAX and later were featured on radio and television in Detroit, Cincinnati and eventually on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia. They first recorded for Fortune in 1952 but the following year they successfully auditioned for RCA and their recording of "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" quickly became a number one country hit. On August 23, 1953, the singers' car was involved in a collision with another vehicle, resulting in the death of Betty Jack and leaving Skeeter critically injured. It was over a year before Skeeter recovered physically and mentally from the crash and it was only with great difficulty that she was persuaded to resume her career. After a couple years downtime, Davis resumed her career and steadily became a favorite at the RCA studios, as well as a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry. During the '60s, she became one of RCA's most successful country artists, registering 26 U.S. country hits.
Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music by Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann.
Skeeter Davis biography
Donna Chapel's website
Biography on the Maddox Brothers and Rose
Collins Kids, Rockabilly Essentials, Hip-O Records, 1998.
Wanda Jackson, Let's Have a Party!, Back Biter Records, 1993.
Brenda Lee, The Best of Brenda Lee, MCA Nashville, 1999.
Janis Martin, Here I Am, Hydra Records, 1992.
Maddox Brothers & Rose, Maddox Brothers & Rose - Volume One, Arhoolie Records, 1976.
Charline Arthur, Welcome to the Club, Bear Family Records, 1998.