Obituary of Jimmy Logsdon
The Courier-Journal newspaper of Monday, October 8, 2001
10/08/2001 - Jimmy L. Logsdon, 79, Louisville, died Sunday at his daughters residence. He was born on April 1, 1922 in Panther, KY. The son of a Methodist minister, he began singing in his father's church choir at the age of 12 and first played clarinet at school before changing to guitar. Between 1944 and 1946, he served in the Air Force and on release opened a record shop in LaGrange, KY. By 1948 he was performing locally and received a break in 1950, when he won his own 15-minute country radio show, first on WLOU but later on WINN Louisville. In October 1952, Decca Records heard him singing on his own show and signed him to the label. He was also helped by his friendship with Hank Williams, by whom he was greatly influenced. At times his style was very similar and with whom he toured in 1952. In January 1953, his double-sided tribute release "The Death of Hank Williams" and "Hank Williams Sings the Blues No More," gained him considerable acclaim, although it failed to make the national country charts. Jimmy also had one of his songs "I've Got a Rocket in My Pocket" used in the soundtrack of the movies, "The Right Stuff" and "The Iron Giant" Soon afterwards together with his band, the Golden Harvest Boys, he began his live Country & Western Show on WHAS-TV, Louisville, with his sister Martha Jean called the Bargain Ranch, as well as maintaining a country radio show on WKLO. After three further Decca singles, he also recorded singles for Dot and Starday and two more rockabilly-type numbers as Jimmy Lloyd for the Roulette Label. In the early 60's he appeared on major NBC and CBS radio shows, the Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry, Logsdon was chosen to replace Wayne Raney as the presenter on WCKY, Cincinnati night-time country music show and that same year, he recorded an album for the King label. In the late 60's. he presented major shows on WTVF-Mobile and WCLU-Louisville. He remained fairly active as a performer and as a radio presenter on various stations until around 1976 he took up a post with the Kentucky Labor Dept. During his career some of the songs which he wrote were recorded by other artists including: Johny Horton, Carl Perkins, Woody Herman, who recorded Logsdon's "No True Love." He was preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Mary Gertrude Cissell. Survivors: daughter and son-in-law, Mary Lee and Ron Silvers of Louisville; Grandchildren, Trenda Metcalf and Gina Payton; and four great-grandchildren; niece, Nancy Smith of Louisville; and nephew, Ray Lloyd Barrickman of Goshen, KY. (Bass player for Hank Williams Jr.'s Bama Band). Funeral: 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pearson Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Ln. Louisville. Burial: St, Michael's Cemetery. Visitation: 1-4 and 5-8 p.m. Monday and after 11 a.m. Tuesday. Memorials: American Heart Association.
By his long time friend - Rusty York ...
Jimmie Lloyd Logsdon was born on April 1, 1922 in Panther, Kentucky. His father was a self-taught man who made it through a Methodist seminary. He was a circuit rider in Kentucky during his early years as a preacher and was then posted to several towns while Jimmie was growing up.
Music for the first 15 years of Jimmies' life was gospel, the only music he had heard around his gospel surroundings. He and his sister sang in the choir. They put on shows and entered amateur contests. When the family lived in southeastern Kentucky, he heard blues singers and secular country music at ice cream parties and other social events. Later, he was impressed by rhythm & blues and especially remembers Erskin Hawkins' "After Hours" as a record that made a deep impression on him. Glenn Miller, Gershwin and the popular music of the day also had an impact but not as much as blues and country.
In 1940, he was graduated from high school in Ludlow, Kentucky, and in the fall he married his first wife. He started working in Cincinnati installing public address systems. In 1944 he went to the service in the Air Corps, but never got further than technical training school in Madison, Wisconsin and an air base near San Antonio where he repaired the wiring on B-17s. Down in Texas, he heard Ernest Tubb and other Texas honky tonk singers. Locked up in the stockade for a few days, he remembers singing to a fellow inmate who was facing a term in Leavenworth. "That is where it all began, "Jimmie said."
In 1946 Jimmie and the service parted ways. He then started a record and radio shop in La Grange, Kentucky, 25 miles northeast of Louisville. He picked up records from the Jimmie Skinner Record Center in Cincinnati to re-sell in his own store, and, after two years, decided that he would get into the music business. In 1948, he borrowed a guitar from some friends for a while and finally broke down and bought one from a pawn shop for 12 dollars. He learned a few basic chords, then cut some demos on an old recording machine he had in the back of the shop.
He got together a band and went to Cincinnati and cut his first record for Harvest Records, his own label. He did the recording at Herzogs which was the same studio where Hank Williams Sr. had cut "Lovesick Blues" about two years earlier. He eventually wound up performing on a show in Louisville where the great Hank Williams was headlining. Hank told Jimmie that he would speak to someone in Nashville about getting Jimmie a contract. Meanwhile, Jimmie, in addition to doing shows and nightclub appearances, had a daily radio show. He interviewed lots of stars including Jim Reeves, Porter Waggoner, Merle Travis, Elvis Presley, Boyd Bennett, Les Paul and Mary Ford and a lot of others.
After Hank Williams died on January 1, 1953, Jimmie recorded a series of country songs in the manner of Hank Williams for the Decca label. He even used Hank's band on a lot of the sessions. He also cut some sides for Starday and Dot. Later, his friend in Nashville, Vic McAlpin, called and said he had a possible recording deal for Jimmie with Roulette Records. By this time Rockabilly was coming into full swing and hardly any label wanted a country singer on their roster. Jimmie had gotten an idea for a song called "Rio de Rosa" when he was in San Antonio during the war. In 1957 he recorded this rockabilly song for Roulette and it was a big hit in several markets including Memphis where Carl Perkins heard it and covered it on a Columbia album shortly after Jimmie's version was released.
Jimmie and Vic McAlpin also wrote "I've Got a Rocket in My Pocket." To some, this might seem like a dirty song, but Jimmie insists that it was just a nonsense thing. It is still a standard and was recently used in the sound track of the movie, "the Right Stuff." The reason Vic McAlpin and Jimmie decided to use the pseudonym "Jimmie Lloyd" when recording for Roulette Records was that Jimmie knew that country fans are loyal and maybe would not forgive him for singing rock and roll if they knew it was really him singing. Hardly any of his country fans knew that Jimmie Lloyd was in reality, Jimmie Logsdon.
He was released from his Roulette contract after the 2nd record and he realized that at this age, he might be a little old to be rocking and rolling. In May and June of 1963, he went to the King Recording Studios in Cincinnati, and recorded several sides for a King album, "Howdy Neighbors," (KING 843).) (From 1962 to April 1964, he was a Dee Jay on the 50,000 watt AM station WCKY.) In 1978 a vinyl album on Roulette (NSPL28245) was released featuring Jimmy Lloyd (sic) Johnny Rivers, Jimmy Bowen, and Joann Campbell among others, it was a big seller overseas.
He recorded a rockabilly album for Jewel Records in Cincinnati in 1981, and it was released worldwide in 1983. This album "Now and Then I Think of the 50's" (Jewel 83021) had 15 sides and featured his friend Rusty York playing guitar and harmonica in addition to producing the L.P. The album sold well in Europe and is a collectors item there even today. In 1993 Bear Family Records from Germany released a 29 song CD on Jimmie Logsdon titled: "I Got A Rocket In My Pocket" (BCD15650-AH). This CD has extensive photos, stories, and a discography in the booklet. He has been a prolific song writer during his career and has had many stars record his songs including Johnny Horton, Kenny Price, Woody Herman, Carl Perkins and others.
An article of three full pages on Jimmie was written for Goldmine Magazine in the February 1980 edition. The author was Adriaan Sturm from Holland. This article gives an in depth look at the life and times of Jimmie Logsdon in the fifties and through the seventies. A book, "Tattooed on Their Tongues" by Colin Escott also has extensive information about Jimmie and his career. A two inch thick book: Definitive Country - The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Country Music and Its Performers by Barry McCloud and other contributing writers including Ivan M. Tribe is currently on the market and has an extensive story on Jimmie Logsdon and other rockabilly and country performers.
Jimmie is retired today and lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Mary. He is active in social affairs and song writing. He still has fond memories of his Rockabilly days and is amazed that his name is known all over the world.
First Fan Club Magazine
1959 Fan Club Magazine
Fan Club Cards
On Roulette Records:
Jimmy Logsdon, a hillbilly singer from the mining town of Panther, Kentucky, forged a new career in rockabilly when he recorded for Roulette under the pseudonym of JIMMY LLOYD in 1957. His debut, "Where The Rio De Rosa Flows", appeared on the label's short-lived country series, and there was little distinction between Lloyd, a grainy, hard-edged rockabilly singer, and Logsdon, the country musician who'd thrilled audiences with "Midnight Boogie " (Decca 29075) four years earlier. "Rio De Rosa", subsequently revived by Carl Perkins, was written with Vic McAlpin, a veteran Nashville songwriter who'd collaborated with Hank Williams. The follow-up, "I Got A Rocket In My Pocket", c/w "You're Gone, Baby" is the most sought-after of all Roulette's sporadic excursions into prime-cut rockabilly. Lloyd's hillbilly persona was evident in other discs for Dot, Starday and King.
Despite his prolificity - he cut at least ten titles for Roulette - JOHNNIE STRICKLAND has remained immune from rock 'n' roll sleuths. He evidently recorded in Nashville where Hank Garland and Grady Martin shared lead guitar licks on his discs (and those by Jimmy Lloyd) and the vocals on his first recording, "She's Mine" c/w "You've Got What It Takes", suggest another Southern country boy. Of subsequent singles, "I've Heard That Line Before" (4147) and "Sweet Talkin' Baby" (4221) strove too hard for universal appeal, but "That's Baby" (4335) may be worthy of future resuscitation.