Jimmie Rodgers (pop singer)

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Jimmie Rodgers
Rodgers in 1968
Rodgers in 1968
Background information
Birth nameJames Frederick Rodgers
Also known asJimmie F. Rodgers (credited as)
Born(1933-09-18)September 18, 1933
Camas, Washington, U.S.
DiedJanuary 18, 2021(2021-01-18) (aged 87)
Palm Desert, California, U.S.
  • Singer
  • Actor
Years active1957–2021

James Frederick Rodgers (September 18, 1933 – January 18, 2021) was an American singer and actor. Rodgers had a run of hits and mainstream popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. His string of crossover singles ranked highly on the Billboard Pop Singles, Hot Country and Western Sides, and Hot Rhythm and Blues Sides charts; in the 1960s, Rodgers had more modest successes with adult contemporary music.

He was not related to country music pioneer Jimmie C. Rodgers (1897–1933), who died the same year the younger Rodgers was born. Among country audiences, and in his official songwriting credits, the younger Rodgers, Jimmie Frederick, was often credited as Jimmie F. Rodgers to differentiate the two.


Early Years[edit]

Rodgers was born in Camas, Washington.[1] He was the second son of Archie and Mary Rodgers.[2] Rodgers was taught music by his mother, a piano teacher,[3] and began performing as a child, first entertaining at a Christmas show when he was only five.[1] He learned to play the piano and guitar, and performed locally.

After attending Camas High School, he briefly took courses at Clark Junior College in Vancouver, Washington.[2] He later went to work in a paper mill. Although he loved music, he was uncertain whether he could turn it into a career. He was subsequently drafted and served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.[4]


While in the Air Force, Rodgers joined a band called "The Melodies" started by violinist Phil Clark. During his service, he was transferred to Nashville, where he was stationed at Sewart Air Force Base from 1954-1956.[5] It was during this time that he began expanding his musical repertoire. While he was in Nashville, he first heard the song that would become his first hit, "Honeycomb".[4]

Like a number of other entertainers of the era, he was one of the contestants on Arthur Godfrey's talent show on CBS television, winning $700.[6] When Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore left RCA Victor for Morris Levy's company, Roulette Records, they became aware of Rodgers' talent and signed him to a recording contract.

In the summer of 1957, he recorded his own version of "Honeycomb", which had been written by Bob Merrill and recorded by Georgie Shaw three years earlier.[7] The tune was Rodgers' biggest hit, staying on the top of the charts for four weeks. It sold over one million copies,[8] and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[9] Over the following year he had a number of other hits that reached the Top 10 on the charts: "Kisses Sweeter than Wine"; "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again"; "Secretly"; and "Are You Really Mine". Other hits include "Bo Diddley", "Bimbombey", "Ring-a-ling-a-lario", "Tucumcari", "Tender Love and Care (T.L.C)", and a version of Waltzing Matilda as a film tie-in with the apocalyptic movie On the Beach in 1959

In the United Kingdom, "Honeycomb" reached number 30 in the UK Singles Chart in November 1957, but "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" climbed to number 7 the following month.[10] Both "Kisses Sweeter than Wine" and "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again" were million sellers.[9]

The success of "Honeycomb" earned Rodgers guest appearances on numerous variety programs during 1957, including the "Shower of Stars" program, hosted by Jack Benny, on October 31, 1957,[11] and the Big Record with Patti Page, on December 4, 1957.[12] Rodgers also made several appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show, including on September 8, 1957, when he was seen by 48,500,000, the largest television audience of his entire career,[13] and November 3, 1957.[14] In 1958, he appeared on NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show. Also in 1958, he sang the opening theme song of the film The Long, Hot Summer, starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Orson Welles.[15] He then had his own short-lived televised variety show on NBC in 1959.[16]


His biggest hit in the UK was "English Country Garden", a version of the folk song "Country Gardens", which reached number 5 in the chart in June 1962.[10] In 1962, he moved to the Dot label, and four years later to A&M Records. He also appeared in some films, including The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come, opposite Neil Hamilton, and Back Door to Hell, which he helped finance.

In 1966, a long dry spell ended for Rodgers when he re-entered the Top 40 with "It's Over" (later to be recorded by Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Mason Williams, and Sonny James). In 1967, he changed record labels, signing with A&M Records.[17] It was with that label that Rodgers had his final charting Top 100 single, "Child of Clay", written by Ernie Maresca, (who had a top-40 hit back in 1962, "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)".) [18] He performed the song on several television variety shows, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,[19] but it never became a big hit; it only reached number 31 on the Billboard charts.

Later career[edit]

Recovery from injuries sustained mysteriously on a highway in 1967 caused an approximately year-long period in which Rodgers ceased to perform. Meanwhile, his voice was still being heard: several of his earlier hits were used in jingles in the 1970s, one for SpaghettiOs and another for Honeycomb breakfast cereal.[5] And Rodgers' songs continued to make the Billboard Country and Easy Listening charts until 1979. During the summer of 1969, he made a brief return to network television with a summer variety show [20] on ABC (which later bought the rights to Rodgers' Dot Records releases, now owned by Universal Music Group). It was not until the early 1980s when he began doing some limited live appearances again. Among the earliest was a series of shows in late February 1983: he performed at Harrah's Reno Casino Cabaret.[3] He also performed a few shows in other cities, including at a nightclub called Mister Days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in late 1983.[21]

Rodgers appeared in a 1999 video, Rock & Roll Graffiti by American Public Television, along with about 20 other performers.[22] Nevertheless, he gave "Honeycomb" a try, and he mentioned that he had a show in Branson, Missouri.

Rodgers returned to his hometown of Camas, Washington in 2011 and 2012, performing to sell-out crowds.[citation needed] In 2013, his neighbors successfully got a street named after him, in the neighborhood where he grew up.[22]

Head injuries[edit]

On December 1, 1967, Rodgers suffered traumatic head injuries after the car he was driving was stopped by an off-duty police officer near the San Diego Freeway in Los Angeles. He had a fractured skull and required several surgeries.[23] Initial reports in the newspapers attributed his injuries to a severe beating with a blunt instrument by unknown assailants.[24] Rodgers had no specific memory of how he had been injured, remembering only that he had seen blindingly bright lights from a car pulling up behind him.[25]

A few days later, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) stated that off-duty LAPD officer Michael Duffy (at times identified in the press as Richard Duffy) had stopped him for erratic driving, and that Rodgers had stumbled, fallen and hit his head. According to the police version, Duffy then called for assistance from two other officers, and the three of them put the unconscious Rodgers into his car and left the scene.[26] That account was supported by the treating physicians, who had first blamed the skull fracture on a beating but, by the latter part of December, they concluded that Rodgers had in fact fallen and that had caused his injuries.[27]


The following month, Rodgers filed an $11 million lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles, claiming that the three officers had beaten him.[28] The police and the L.A. County District Attorney rejected these claims, although the three officers (identified in the press as Michael T. Duffy, 27; Raymond V. Whisman, 29, and Ronald D. Wagner, 32)[29] were given two-week suspensions for improper procedures in handling the case, particularly their leaving the injured Rodgers alone in his car. (He was later found by a worried friend.)[30][31] Duffy had had a previous four-day suspension for using unnecessary force; he had used a blackjack on a juvenile.[30][31]

The three officers and the LA Fire and Police Protective League filed a $13 million slander suit against Rodgers for his public statements accusing them of brutality.[32]

Neither suit came to trial; the police slander suit was dropped, and in 1973 Rodgers elected to accept a $200,000 settlement from the Los Angeles City Council, which voted to give him the money rather than to incur the costs and risks of further court action.[33] Rodgers and his supporters still believe that one or more of the police officers beat him, although other observers find the evidence inconclusive.[34] In his 2010 biography Me, the Mob, and the Music, singer Tommy James wrote that Morris Levy, the Mafia-connected head of Roulette Records, had arranged the attack in response to Rodgers' repeated demands for unpaid royalties he was due by the label. All of Rodgers' most successful singles had been released by Roulette, who were notorious for not paying their artists for their record sales.[35]

In 1993, Raymond Virgil Whisman, one of the three officers who were alleged to have assaulted Rodgers, was arrested for assaulting his wife and threatening to kill her. The arrest occurred after sheriff's deputies stormed his house after being informed that he was holding his wife at gunpoint. Deputies found 11 rifles, four shotguns, and two handguns in the home. Whisman was charged with two counts of assault and two counts of making terroristic threats.[36]


In 2010, Rodgers wrote and published his autobiography, Dancing on the Moon: The Jimmie Rodgers Story.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Rodgers and his first wife Colleen (née McClatchey) divorced in 1970, and she died May 20, 1977.[37] They had two children, Michael and Michele. He had remarried in 1970, and Jimmie and Trudy Rodgers had two sons, Casey and Logan. He and Trudy divorced in the late 1970s, and he remarried again. Jimmie and Mary Rodgers were still married when he died, and they have a daughter, Katrine, who was born in 1989.

Rodgers suffered from spasmodic dysphonia for a number of years and could hardly sing. After a 2012 concert, he returned home for open heart surgery, following a heart attack he had suffered three weeks earlier.

Rodgers died from kidney disease on January 18, 2021, at the age of 87.[38] He had also tested positive for COVID-19 in the time before his death, according to his publicist.[39]



Year Album Chart positions Label
1957 Jimmie Rodgers 15 Roulette
1958 The Number One Ballads
Jimmie Rodgers Sings Folk Songs
1959 Jimmie Rodgers… His Golden Year
Jimmie Rodgers TV Favorites, Volume 1
Twilight on the Trail
It's Christmas Once Again
1960 When the Spirit Moves You
At Home with Jimmie Rodgers
1961 The Folk Song World of Jimmie Rodgers
15 Million Sellers
1962 No One Will Ever Know Dot
1963 Jimmie Rodgers in Folk Concert
My Favorite Hymns
Honeycomb & Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
The World I Used to Know
1964 12 Great Hits
1965 Deep Purple
Christmas with Jimmie Rodgers
1966 The Nashville Sound
Country Music 1966
It's Over 145
1967 Love Me, Please Love Me
Golden Hits
Child of Clay 162 A&M
1969 The Windmills of Your Mind 183 92
1970 Troubled Times
1978 Yesterday/Today Scrimshaw



Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US US Country US R&B
1956 "I Always Knew"
b/w "I Won't Sing Rock and Roll"
Non-album tracks
1957 "Honeycomb"
b/w "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" (Non-album track)
1 7 1 Jimmie Rodgers
"Kisses Sweeter Than Wine"
b/w "Better Loved You'll Never Be"
7 6 8
1958 "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling In Love Again" / 7 5 19 His Golden Year
"The Long Hot Summer" 77
"Secretly" / 3 5 7
"Make Me a Miracle" 16 flip 7
"Are You Really Mine?" / 10 13
"The Wizard" 45
b/w "You Understand Me" (Non-album track)
1959 "Because You're Young" / 62
"I'm Never Gonna Tell" 36
"Ring-a-Ring a Lario" / 32 15 Million Sellers
"Wonderful You" 40 Just for You
b/w "The Night You Became Seventeen" (from Just for You)
32 15 Million Sellers
"Wistful Willie"
b/w "It's Christmas Once Again" (from It's Christmas Once Again)
112 Non-album tracks
"T.L.C. Tender Love and Care" / 24
"Waltzing Matilda" 41 Jimmie Rodgers Sings Folk Songs


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
1960 "Just a Closer Walk with Thee"
b/w "Joshua Fit The Battle O' Jericho"
44 When the Spirit Moves You
"The Wreck Of The 'John B.'"
b/w "Four Little Girls in Boston"
64 - At Home with Jimmie Rodgers - An Evening of Folk Songs
"Woman from Liberia"
b/w "Come Along Julie" (from At Home with Jimmie Rodgers)
The Best of Jimmie Rodgers Folk Songs
1961 "When Love Is Young"
b/w "The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come"
Non-album tracks
"Everytime My Heart Sings"
b/w "I'm on My Way"
"I'm Goin' Home"
b/w "John Brown's Baby"
"A Little Dog Cried"
b/w "English Country Garden"
71 16 The Best of Jimmie Rodgers Folk Songs
1962 "You Are Everything to Me"
b/w "Wand'rin Eyes"
Non-album tracks
"No One Will Ever Know"
b/w "Because"
43 14 No One Will Ever Know
"Rainbow at Midnight"
b/w "Rhumba Boogie"
62 16 Non-album tracks
1963 "I'll Never Stand in Your Way"
b/w "Afraid"
"Face in a Crowd"
b/w "Lonely Tears" (from It's Over)
"(I Don't Know Why) I Just Do"
b/w "Load 'Em Up (An' Keep on Steppin')"
"I'm Gonna Be the Winner"
b/w "Poor Little Raggedy Ann" (Non-album track)
No One Will Ever Know
1964 "Two-Ten, Six-Eighteen (Doesn't Anybody Know My Name)"
b/w "The Banana Boat Song" (from Honeycomb & Kisses Sweeter Than Wine)
78 Town and Country
"Mama Was a Cotton Picker"
b/w "Together" (Non-album track)
"The World I Used to Know"
b/w "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" (from 12 Great Hits)
51 9
"Someplace Green"
b/w "Water Boy"
1965 "Two Tickets"
b/w "The Bell Witch"
Non-album tracks
" (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers"
b/w "Bon Soir, Mademoiselle"
Deep Purple
"Careless Love"
b/w "When I'm Right You Don't Remember"
Non-album tracks
"Beachcomber (Are You Going My Way)"
b/w "Little School Girl"
"Hollow Words"
b/w "Bye, Bye Love"
The Nashville Sound
"The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)"
b/w "In the Snow" (from The Nashville Sound)
Christmas with Jimmie Rodgers
1966 "A Fallen Star"
b/w "Brother Where Are You" (Non-album track)
12 Great Hits
"It's Over"
b/w "Anita, You're Dreaming" (from Country Music 1966)
37 5 29 It's Over
"Young Ideas"
b/w "Morning Means Tomorrow" (from It's Over)
Non-album track
"Love Me, Please Love Me"
b/w "Wonderful You"
Love Me, Please Love Me
1967 "Time"
b/w "Yours and Mine" (Non-album track)
It's Over
"I'll Say Goodbye"
b/w "Shadows" (Non-album track)
20 Child of Clay
"Child of Clay"
b/w "Turnaround"
31 21
"What a Strange Town (The People Had No Faces)"
b/w "If I Were the Man" (from Child of Clay)
Non-album track
1968 "I Believed It All"
b/w "You Pass Me By"
25 Child of Clay
b/w "The Lovers"
104 19 80
"How Do You Say Goodbye"
b/w "I Wanna Be Free" (from Child of Clay)
Windmills of Your Mind
1969 "Tomorrow Is My Friend"A
b/w "Cycles" (from Windmills of Your Mind)
39 Non-album track
"The Windmills of Your Mind"
b/w "L.A. Breakdown (And Let Me In)"
123 Windmills of Your Mind
" (Without Her) Father Paul"
b/w "Me About You" (from Windmills of Your Mind)
Non-album track
  • A"Tomorrow Is My Friend" also peaked at #28 on RPM Adult Contemporary.


Year Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Chart positions Album
US Country US AC
1970 "Troubled Times"
b/w "The Dum Dum Song"
Troubled Times
1972 "Froggy's Fable"
b/w "Daylight Lights the Dawning"
30 singles only
"Kick the Can"
b/w "Go on By"
1977 "A Good Woman Likes to Drink with the Boys"
b/w "Everybody Needs Love"
67 Yesterday -- Today
1978 "Everytime I Sing a Love Song"
b/w "Just a Little Time"
"When Our Love Began"
B-side unknown
b/w "Shovelin' Cole Missouri" (from Yesterday -- Today)
65 46 Non-album tracks
1979 "Easy to Love" / 89
"Easy" (featuring Michele Rodgers) flip


Rodgers parlayed his singing fame into a brief movie career with lead performances in:

Jimmie sang the song entitled "Half Sung Song" in the 1977 comedy film The Billion Dollar Hobo, starring Tim Conway.


In the mid-1960s, he re-recorded (with altered tunes and words referring to the products) two of his best-known songs, for use in television advertisements:


  1. ^ a b Wayne Harada. "Spotlighted Singer." Honolulu Advertiser, September 15, 1957, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b John Vergara, "Oh, Oh, He's Done It Again." New York Daily News, April 27, 1958, p. M4.
  3. ^ a b "Jimmie Rodgers Returns to the Stage." Reno (NV) Gazette, February 24, 1983, p. 16.
  4. ^ a b Dick Kleiner. "Honeycomb Started Here." (Nashville) The Tennessean, November 3, 1957, p. 7C.
  5. ^ a b Robert K. Oermann. "Jimmie Rodgers: There's No Stopping Him Now." (Nashville) The Tennessean, November 27, 1985, p. D1.
  6. ^ a b "Jimmie Rodgers on singing and surviving". The Spectrum & Daily News.
  7. ^ Rod Ellis. "WDXN's Disc Digest." (Clarksville TN) Leaf-Chronicle, September 6, 1957, p. 3.
  8. ^ "Honeycomb Passes Million." Cashbox, October 5, 1957, p. 32.
  9. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 95. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 467. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. ^ Barbara Sammons. "Your TV Favorites on New Time Schedule Starting Today." Greenville (SC) News, October 27, 1957, p. 28.
  12. ^ "Wednesday Television Programs." (New Brunswick NJ) Sunday Home News, December 1, 1957, p. 13.
  13. ^ "TV News." (Salem OR) Capital Journal, September 7, 1957, Section 2, p. 6.
  14. ^ "Famous Dancers From Bali Will Be on KOIN-TV." (Longview WA) Daily News, November 2, 1957, p. 19.
  15. ^ "Folk Song Rodgers to Do Title Number." Los Angeles Times, December 27, 1957, part 3, p. 10.
  16. ^ William Ewald. "Television in Review." Naugatuck (CT) News, May 27, 1959, p. 7.
  17. ^ Bill Rumfelt. "Easy Listening." Rocky Mount (NC) Telegram, September 17, 1967, p. 2A.
  18. ^ David F. Wagner. "Under the Album Covers." Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, September 24, 1967, p. S10.
  19. ^ "Channel Choices," Allentown (PA) Morning Call, November 11, 1967, p. 10
  20. ^ Paul Henniger. "TV People." San Francisco Examiner, December 2, 1970, p. TV 19
  21. ^ Tim Smith. "Jimmie Rodgers Rides Sweet Nostalgia Wave." Fort Lauderdale News/Sun-Sentinel, May 27, 1983, p. 22.
  22. ^ a b "Street signs point to Jimmie Rodgers Avenue". The Columbian.
  23. ^ "Singer reported improved after two brain operations". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 11, 1967. p. 3A.
  24. ^ "Singer hospitalized". Spartanburg Herald. (South Carolina). Associated Press. December 4, 1967. p. 8.
  25. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search". News.google.com. Archived from the original on 2020-03-09. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  26. ^ "Jimmie Rodgers' injury linked to fall". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. December 20, 1967. p. 11.
  27. ^ "New Disclosure Hints Rodgers Hurt By Fall," The Modesto Bee, December 20, 1967, p. C-9 Archived April 13, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. AP wire service story.
  28. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits: Updated and Expanded 5th Edition. New York: Billboard Books. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-823-07677-2.
  29. ^ January 5, 1968,Independent, Long Beach, California · Page 1
  30. ^ a b "Officers suspended in injury to singer". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Los Angeles Times News Service. January 5, 1968. p. 2.
  31. ^ a b "Officers cleared of assault on singer Jimmie Rodgers". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). (Los Angeles Times). March 28, 1968. p. 28.
  32. ^ Villasenor, Rudy (April 11, 1968). "Now Jimmie Rodgers being sued - for $13 million". Tuscaloosa News. (Alabama). (Los Angeles Times). p. 5.
  33. ^ "Folk singer settles suit for $200,000". St. Petersburg Times. (Florida). UPI. August 23, 1973. p. 15-A.
  34. ^ "Nashville Sound: Jimmie Rodgers". Apnews.com.
  35. ^ James, Tommy, Me, the Mob, and the Music, Scribner Publishing, 2010, p. 205
  36. ^ The Signal,Santa Clarita, California 18 Jun 1993, Fri,Page 3
  37. ^ "Lodi News-Sentinel - Google News Archive Search". News.google.com.
  38. ^ Best Classic Bands Staff (19 January 2021). "Jimmie Rodgers, Early Rock 'n' Roll Star, Dies at 87". Best Classic Bands. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  39. ^ "Jimmie Rodgers, singer of 'Honeycomb' and other hits, dies". The Associated Press. January 23, 2021. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  40. ^ The George Burns Show; Wikipedia
  41. ^ Wyman, Carolyn (2004). Better Than Homemade. Philadelphia, PA: Quirk Books. p. 124. ISBN 9781931686426.

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