Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brokenhearted Rockabilly Rebel Jody Reynolds.

I've hunted for the few scraps of information I could find on the internet about 2-hit wonder Jody Reynolds, but have barely been able to dig up enough to fill one blog post.  Photos and album covers alike are sparse, and the biographical details are basic.  

I randomly discovered Jody Reynolds via pure serendipity, as I do so many amazing obscure bands/singers, and was intrigued just at first glance at his discography... Song titles like "Endless Sleep", "Golden Idol", "(The Girl with the) Raven Hair", "Fire of Love", "The Storm", "Devil Girl",  "Closin' In" and "Please Remember Me" called my name and when I heard the tortured rebel crooning the most gloomy, lovesick lyrics, I thought of James Dean and that whole hazy sub-genre of teen -angst rockabilly that captures the cry-in-your-beer regrets of country music and the bad boy 'I don't give a damn' of rock n' roll.  

Born in 1932 in Denver, Colorado and raised an Okie, he rose to fame after penning his first hit "Endless Sleep" in a day immediately after hearing Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel" playing on the radio.  The melancholy storyline of "Heartbreak Hotel" appealed to him but his own heartbreak affair, "Endless Sleep", became an even darker take on love lost, detailing the story of a boy searching for his girlfriend that had gone missing and died. Reynolds' vocals existed somewhere between the sex appeal of Elvis and the boy-next-door innocence of Ricky Nelson.  Record labels at first rejected his sad lyrics, saying the song was too depressing, but finally after a record company begged him to tack on a happy ending where he finds her body and saves her from death, the song was recorded and rose toward the top of the charts.  Said the LA Times, "“Endless Sleep,” which peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart in 1958, opened the door for a string of similarly tragic pop hits including Mark Dinning's "Teen Angel," Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her," Johnny Preston's "Running Bear," the Everly Brothers' "Ebony Eyes," Dickey Lee's "Patches" and the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack." His follow up hit was the luke-warm seller "Fire of Love", but even though his stardom has dimmed with each passing year, he remains a cult hero and new bands are even covering his tunes.   I personally am crazy for all those tortured album cuts that may not have made the charts in his heyday as "Tarantula" or "Closin' In" can get just as many plays around my house as "Endless Sleep" and "Fire of Love".  

After his short success in the music spotlight, Reynolds had other ventures in music and settled down with a family.  He died a few years ago in the deserts of California like a true American wanderer. 

Thunder lighting when it rain / Will I ever find my love again / 
I saw in her eyes a love to share / The girl with coal black raven hair.  
She begged me to follow as she lured me on / Pledging her love until the dawn To her I was drawn like a moth to a flame 
And somehow I knew it would end just the same. "


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