Cordell Jackson

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Cordell Jackson
Cordell Jackson.jpg
Cordell Jackson in about 1990
Background information
Genres Rock
Country music
Garage Rock
Instruments Guitar
Associated acts The A-Bones

Cordell Jackson (July 15, 1923 – October 14, 2004) was an American guitarist thought to be the first woman to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and roll music label. She was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, on July 15, 1923, and died in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 14, 2004.


Jackson founded the Moon Records label in Memphis in 1956 after a few years of recording demos at Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records Studio. Unable to break into the Sun Records label's stable of male artists, she received the advice and assistance of RCA Records' Chet Atkins in forming this new label to release her music. She began releasing and promoting on the label singles she recorded in her home studio, serving as engineer, producer and arranger. The artists recorded included her and a small family of early rock and roll, rockabilly, and country music performers she recruited from several Southern states.

Tav Falco's Panther Burns and Alex Chilton helped create new interest in her career in the 1980s when they began covering some of her Moon label's old singles such as "Dateless Night", a song she originally wrote in the 1950s for Florida artist Allen Page. Jackson then began playing occasional shows in the 1980s with her signature red Hagstrom electric guitar as a solo artist in Memphis, Hoboken, New York, and Chicago nightclubs. She recorded new material on her label with Memphis musicians Colonel Robert Morris and Bob Holden, becoming known as a "rock-and-roll granny" solo guitar instrumentalist. She appeared in 1991 and 1992 on national talk shows like Late Night with David Letterman and in a television commercial duelling with rockabilly artist Brian Setzer on guitar.

In the late 1990s, Cordell co-wrote and played with the Rockabilly icon, Colonel Robert Morris in Memphis. Colonel Robert also helped edit the book based on her life and career.

Her Moon Records label was the oldest continuously operating label in Memphis at the time of her death in 2004. The 50's Rock on the Moon of Memphis, Tennessee + an Oddity, a compilation album of the label's 1950s singles, was released on vinyl in the early 1980s and was later sold on compact disc until her death in 2004. The original 1950s vinyl singles compiled on that album have been displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. She also released video singles through her label in the 1990s, including "Football Widow" and filmmaker Dan Rose's production of "The Split." Her marketing of her own video singles, as opposed to marketing them in multiple-song video collections, is reputed to be another first in her innovative lifetime of doing things her own way, bucking the trends of standard industry practice.

Jackson's only solo full-length album to date, Cordell Jackson — Live in Chicago was released on Bughouse Records in 1997. Information and memorabilia about Jackson is included in the Smithsonian Institution's Memphis Rock N' Soul Museum in Memphis.


  • Appeared in a Bud Light commercial where she interrupts Brian Setzer during his rehearsal, to teach him a fast lesson on how to play rock-and-roll guitar.
  • Had a role as "Bathroom Lady" in the 1992 film The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag.
  • On January 23, 1995, Cordell Jackson sent a letter to then Moon Records Moon Ska Records requesting them to cease the use of the name Moon Records, thus prompting the New York-based ska label to add the "ska" portion of their continued name "Moon Ska Records."



Cordell Jackson
  • "Rock And Roll Christmas" / "Beboppers' Christmas" - Moon Records G80W-6407/8 - (1956)[1]
Cordell Jackson and her Guitar
  • "Football Widow" / "I'm at Home Again (In the Memories of My Mind)" Moon Records EP-311 - (1983)[2]
  • "Rockin' Rollin' Eyes" / "Memphis Drag" - Sympathy for the Record Industry SFTRI 50 - (1990)[3]


Cordell Jackson
  • The Split - Moon Records MR 333 - (1980s)[4]
  • Knockin' Sixty - Moon EP-312 - (1983)[5]
Various artist compilations
  • Moon Records of Memphis, Tennessee - Moon - EP-1001 - (198?) [6]


Cordell Jackson
  • Live in Chicago - Bughouse 3 - (1997)[7]
Various artists compilations
  • The 50's Rock On The Moon of Memphis, Tennessee + an Oddity - Moon Records LP-MR 3010 - (1979) [8] (Moon compilation LP, rereleased later on CD, United States, 1981* Rock And Roll Christmas (Jan/Star Club compilation, Sweden, 1989)
  • Rock On The Moon (Redita compilation, the Netherlands)
  • Living in a State of Love. (Memphis Music Community, 1990s)
  • Rockabilly Xmas. (Buffalo Bop compilation, Germany, 2000)
  • Past, Present and Future. (Inside Sounds, 2003)

Song sample[edit]

References for article[edit]


  1. '^ Rockin Country Style Jackson, Cordell
  2. ^ Country Music Showcase International Moon Records
  3. ^ Discogs Cordell Jackson Discography
  4. ^ Discogs Cordell Jackson Discography
  5. ^ Country Music Showcase International Moon Records
  6. ^ Country Music Showcase International Moon Records
  7. ^ All Music Cordell Jackson Live in Chicago
  8. ^ Country Music Showcase International Moon Records

External links[edit]