1-CD with 16-page booklet, 30 tracks. Playing time approx 64 mns.
Although she spent eight years in Akron, Ohio as a child, Janis Martin Martin always said that Virginia was her home. She was born Janis Martin Darlene Martin in Sutherlin, Virginia on March 27, 1940. When you consider that Ringo Starr, who epitomized a later generation, was born just four months later, you realize how young she was when she started. "I had a mother who was a show business/stage type mother," she told Bob Allen. "Both my father and my uncle were amateur musicians, and I can't remember a time when I didn't play or sing." In February 1951, bluegrass star Jim Eanes settled near the Martins, and Janis Martin joined him on the radio. Too young to play bars, she became a supporting act and local added attraction when the big names came to town. By age fourteen, Janis Martin had graduated to WRVA's 'Old Dominion Barndance' in Richmond when the show was a big deal in the country music world. When Janis Martin joined in 1953, she performed alongside Hawkshaw Hawkins, Jean Shepard, the Carter Sisters, Sonny James, and Martha Carson. "By the time I joined the 'Old Dominion Barndance' I was getting into my teens," she told Allen, "and it got to where I was bored with slow country songs, and I didn't particularly care for bluegrass either. It was the black R&B that I really started to get comfortable with. I started doing Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker songs. A few Dinah Washington songs, too. I more or less ended up doing rock 'n' roll music on a country show."
One of the on-air personalities at WRVA, Carl Stutz, began writing with another WRVA on-air personality, Carl Barefoot. In 1955, they wrote Will You, Willyum. They asked Janis Martin to demo it for them and the demo went to Tannen Music in New York. Tannen sent it to Steve Sholes at RCA, and, as 'Country Song Roundup' reported, "Steve was supposed to be listening to the song rather than the artist, but Janis' unusual delivery stuck in his mind." Just days later, on March 8, 1956, Janis Martin Martin was in Nashville. She recorded Will You, Willyum together with Buck Griffin's Let's Elope Baby and Boudleaux Bryant's One More Year To Go, and a her own Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll. "It's real surprising," Janis Martin said later, "because on my shows that I do in Europe, I always open with 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll.' Even though it was a B-side, that's the side that took off as far as the kids in Europe are concerned. The only reason I wrote [it] is because they were just beginning to realize that artists would have more success if they could write their own songs. I wrote 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll' in about ten minutes. Everything in that song was actually the scene that was happening for us as teenagers [it was recorded three weeks short of Janis's sixteenth birthday]. The drugstore was the only place we had to go and hang out after school. They had the jukebox and soda fountain and we'd just go and dance and have a soda, maybe order a hamburger and that was our social life."
Janis Martin hit the road, and Will You, Willyum sold well enough for Janis Martin to buy a Cadillac and for RCA to keep the faith. The second session was held in New York on May 11, 1956. Steve Sholes found what was probably the first song about Elvis, My Boy Elvis. Sholes had already come up with the 'Female Elvis' tag, apparently with the tacit approval of the 'Male Elvis.' When Janis Martin was showcased at RCA's sales conference in Miami, Elvis sent a dozen red roses. The Female Elvis had just two brief encounters with the Male Elvis. "I said hello to him backstage at a show in Danville, Virginia," she remembered later (that would have been on September 20, 1955). "Later, I ran into him in New York at RCA's studio. He said, 'How's it goin'?' I said, 'Fine, how about you?' He said, 'It's rough!'" Rougher than she ever knew.
One of our very first CDs - and still one of the best!