|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2008)|
Jayne County (born Wayne Rogers; 1947) is an American performer, musician and actress whose career has spanned several decades. Formerly known as Wayne County, she went on to be rock's first transsexual singer. Though she has never been a commercial success, she has been an influence on a number of musicians including David Bowie, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Pete Burns and Lou Reed. Pianist Jools Holland's first studio outing was with County on her single "Fuck Off".
She is known for her outrageous stage antics and her songs "Are You Man Enough To Be A Woman", "Fuck Off", "Stuck On You," and "Night Time".
Life and career
Born Wayne Rogers in 1947, County left her hometown of Dallas, Georgia, in 1968 to move to New York City, where she became a regular at the Stonewall Inn and took part in the historic riots. In 1969, County was asked by Warhol superstar and playwright Jackie Curtis to appear in her play, Femme Fatale, at the La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, which also starred Patti Smith. In her autobiography, County says of Curtis, "She was my biggest influence, the person who really got me started." After a successful run of Femme Fatale, County wrote World - Birth Of A Nation which she also appeared in, bringing her to the attention of Andy Warhol, who cast her in his own theatrical production, Pork. After a run in New York, the play, with the New York cast, was performed in London. Upon returning to New York, County appeared in another play, Island, by Tony Ingrassia, again with Patti Smith.
In 1972 County formed Queen Elizabeth, one of the pioneering protopunk bands. Despite being signed to MainMan Artistes, David Bowie's management firm, no records were ever produced. The company spent over $200,000 to film the 1974 stage show, "Wayne at the Trucks", the footage of which has never been released. The show featured numerous costume changes and some of County's raunchiest material. Eight songs from the show were released on the 2006 CD, Wayne County At The Trucks, on Munster Records. The show is claimed by County to have been the inspiration for Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour. In particular, County maintains that the song "Queenage Baby" was a prototype for Bowie's song "Rebel Rebel", a claim which is supported by some rock critics.
In 1974 she formed "Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys", which recorded three tracks for Max's Kansas City: New York New Wave, a compilation that also featured Suicide, Pere Ubu, Cherry Vanilla and The Fast. Wayne County and The Backstreet Boys played regularly at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, where County was also a DJ. In 1976, she appeared in the film The Blank Generation, directed by Amos Poe and Ivan Kral. The film, the recording and the shows were the beginnings of what came to be known as punk rock, and helped define the movement.
In 1977, County moved to London, where the English punk scene was just emerging, and formed Wayne County & the Electric Chairs. County released the EP Electric Chairs 1977, plus a single on Illegal Records. This was followed by "Fuck Off", recorded as a single for Safari Records and supported with a European tour. While in London, County met Derek Jarman, who cast her as "Lounge Lizard" in the seminal punk film, Jubilee, which also starred Adam Ant, Toyah Willcox, Ian Charleson, Little Nell and Jordan. County and band are also featured in The Punk Rock Movie, by Don Letts, containing part of a 1977 performance at The Roxy club in London.
Shortly after this, Wayne County and The Electric Chairs recorded their first, self-titled album, as well as an EP, Blatantly Offensive, which contained "Fuck Off" and "Toilet Love." After touring they recorded Storm The Gates Of Heaven. The next album, released in 1979, was Things Your Mother Never Told You, which featured several songs based on County's experiences in Germany and it was produced by David Cunningham. After it was released, the band broke up and County, along with guitarist Eliot Michaels, returned to the U.S. It was at this time that she changed her stage name to "Jayne County" and began publicly identifying as a woman. The final release by County on Safari Records, Rock and Roll Resurrection (In Concert), was under this new name.
In 1983, County returned to New York where she appeared in the theatrical production Les Girls with Holly Woodlawn. Shortly thereafter she returned to London for the premiere of City Of Lost Souls and stayed long enough to record and tour another album, Private Oyster, with Warren Heighway as manager. Her band included members of various UK based rock bands, including Manchester-based guitarists, Stu Clarke and Chris Lynch [Rockson], Mark Pearson on bass and Bazz Creece on drums. Following widespread media attention, she returned to the U.S.
In the 1990s many of the earlier recordings were released, including the early Safari tracks, on a CD called Rock & Roll Cleopatra. She recorded the album Goddess Of Wet Dreams in 1993, followed by Deviation, in 1995. Later that year she appeared in Wigstock: The Movie and released her autobiography, Man Enough To Be A Woman.
Since that time several new tracks have surfaced on various compilations and through County's official website. Many of these tracks, both live and studio recordings, were collected on the Ratcage Records release So New York, including collaborations with Lisa Jackson and former Electric Chairs guitarist Eliot Michaels. A live show, recorded on County's birthday, was released on the 2002 CD Wash Me In The Blood (Of Rock & Roll)- Live at Squeeze Box by Fang Records, and features a duet on "California Sun" by County and former nemesis "Handsome" Dick Manitoba of The Dictators.
- The Blank Generation, directed by Ivan Kral and Amos Poe (1976)
- The Punk Rock Movie, directed by Don Letts (1977)
- Punk In London, directed by Wolfgang Büld
- Jubilee, directed by Derek Jarman
- Stadt der verlorenen Seelen (City Of Lost Souls), directed by Rosa von Praunheim (1982)
- Wigstock:The Movie, directed by Barry Shils (1995)
- Born to Lose: The Last Rock and Roll Movie, directed by Lech Kowalski (1999)
- King of Punk, directed by Kenneth van Schooten (2007)
- Squeezebox!, directed by Steven Saporito and Zach Shaffer (2008)
- Beautiful Darling, directed by James Rasin (2010)
- Man Enough To Be A Woman, Jayne County with Rupert Smith, 1995, published by Serpents's Tail ISBN 1-85242-338-2
- Max's Kansas City 1976 EP Ram Stereo 1213
- The Electric Chairs EP on Illegal Records 1977
- The Electric Chairs on Safari Records 1978
- Blatantly Offensive EP, Safari Records 1978
- Storm The Gates Of Heaven, Safari Records 1978
- Things Your Mother Never Told You, Safari Records 1979
- Rock and Roll Resurrection (In Concert), Safari Records 1980
- Rock and Roll Resurrection (In Concert), Attic Records Limited 1980
- Twist And Shout/Boys 45 rpm single with Jimi LaLumia & The Psychotic Frogs/also featuring Johnny Thunders and Cherry Vanilla-Beat This Label-1981
- Private Oyster, Revolver Records 1987
- Goddess Of Wet Dreams, ESP Records 1993
- Deviation, Royalty Records 1995
- Wash Me In The Blood (Of Rock & Roll)- Live at Squeeze Box, Fang Records 2002
- So New York, Ratcage Records 2003
- Wayne County At The Trucks, Munster Records 2006
- Razor Clam, (single with She Wolves), Poptown Records 2007
- California Uber Alles, (single with She Wolves), Poptown Records 2007
- Fox, Katrina (2006-08-24). "Complete and Utter County".
- Lalumia, Jimi. "Wayne County At The Trucks".
- Thompson, Dave. "Wayne County At The Trucks- Review".