Marvin Rainwater, Rockabilly Rainbird

Marvin Rainwater was born Marvin Karlton Percy in Wichita, Kansas, on July 2nd, 1925. His father Cicero Percy, who was a busdriver, and mother Stella Rainwater were originally from Alabama. His momma took in washing, so Marvin could have a piano and take classical lessons when he was 6 years old. While working in a garage in his teens, his hand got caught in a machine, and he wasn't able to play the piano for many years.

Marvin got married in 1944 to Charlene Scriven when he was in the navy. After he served his time in the navy, the coupled moved to Virgina, where Marvin's brothers Don and Ray also lived. His head was turned around when he heard Roy Acuff's lonesome wail in "The Precious Jewell". From his arrival in Virginia, he started playing music and writing songs, using his mother's maiden name on stage and getting his carreer off the ground by trading off his part-Cherokee pedigree.

He became a regular on Red Foley's Ozark Mountain Jubilee in the early 50s. After being spotted on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television show in the mid-50s, he was signed to Coral. The first of his two singles for them, "I Gotta Go Get My Baby", became a hit for the label when their top act Teresa Brewer covered his record.

By the mid-fifties, Rainwater had started mixing straight-ahead country and western with the emergent, big-beat rockabilly sound. It cost him some fans, but in 1957 he recorded the song he's best known for "Gonna Find Me A Bluebird" for MGM. While country fans would suggest that Bluebird was his best song, rockabilly fans love the Rainbird best for his rocking tracks such as "Hot 'n' Cold", "I Dig You Baby", "Whole Lotta Woman", and many more. His self penned "Gonna Find Me A Bluebird", gave him his only US Top 40 hit though.

Also in 1957, a duet with Connie Francis (before her string of hits), "Majesty Of Love", graced the US Top 100. In 1958, another of his songs, "Whole Lotta Woman", which only reached number 60 in his homeland, topped the UK chart, and his UK-recorded follow-up, "I Dig You Baby", also entered the British Top 20. He later recorded without success for Warwick, Warner Brothers, United Artists, Wesco, his own label Brave, as well as UK labels Philips, Sonet and Westwood. In subsequent years, the man who performed in full American Indian regalia has continued to play the rockabilly and country circuits on both sides of the Atlantic.

Marvin's song "Whole Lotta Woman" was also sung by Vanessa Redgrave in the Academy Award Winning Movie "Georgie Girl." He also penned the hit "I Miss You Already" for Faron Young, which has recently been re-recorded by Billy Joe Royal.