Celebrate Independence Day with Cordell Jackson, the "Rock n Roll Granny" a psychobilly pioneer who played until she was 81

Cordell Jackson started out playing on her father's radio show in the mid-1930s at the age of 12; she was a talented musician who'd already mastered the guitar, piano, and upright bass; she continued to play and went on to found Moon Records (a play on Memphis's iconic "Sun Records") where she was the first woman sound engineer in the country.

Moon Records put out music by rock and roll, rockabilly and country singers, including her own music, which she would "write, sing, accompany, record, engineer, produce and manufacture."

Jackson continued to play and perform and her musical career got a second lease during the psychobilly revival in the 1980s, led by the Cramps and other musicians who mined the history of rock-n-roll for buried outsider treasure, like the music of Hasil Adkins (both Adkins and Jackson were backed by The A-Bones, a garage-rock act started in the sludgabilly era).

When Jackson died in 2004, Moon Records was the oldest continuously operating label in Memphis.

I only discovered Jackson's music this morning and I've been rocking out to it solidly, thanks to a smattering of videos on Youtube. Her stage-presence is incredible, and her music is even better.

In 1956 Jackson founded Moon Records and released her first single under her Moon label, "Bebopper's Christmas." In her home studio she served as an engineer, producer, and arranger, releasing and promoting singles. Artists under Cordell’s label consisted of herself and a small group of rock and roll, rockabilly, and country performers that she recruited from several Southern states. Jackson made music history as the first female recording engineer in the United States. She is counted as the first woman to write, sing, accompany, record, engineer, produce and manufacture a record.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s Jackson remained active in the music scene. Discovering her Moon singles were collector's items, Jackson revived Moon Records in 1980. In the early 80's she released a compilation album on vinyl with the labels 1950's singles titled “The 50's Rock on the Moon of Memphis Tennessee: An Oddity.” In 1983 under Moon she released a four song EP of instrumentals called “Knockin’ at 60.” Throughout the 80's she began to do more solo performances in Hoboken, Memphis, Chicago, and New York City nightclubs.

Cordell Jackson: America’s Female Music Pioneer [Sakae Kidd/ Making Music Herstory Weblife]

(via Wil Wheaton)