Rose Maddox - Country Lady, Rockabilly Heart
Rose Maddox

I started out in 1937 in Modesto, California, with my brothers. Our family moved from Alabama to California during the Depression, so I was really raised on the coast. I was only eleven years old when I started singing professionally with brothers, who were all older than I. We were called hillbilly singers, not country, then. It took people in our field years and years just to get to the point where we were called country singers. After recording for Four Star Records for about six years, starting in 1946 or '47, we went over to Columbia Records, which offered us a good deal. We recorded many things with Columbia in the '50s, and the label offered me the opportunity to record as a single, too. Naturally, I accepted the offer. When the band broke up in '57, I stayed on the label by myself. People tell me that I was one of the first women to sing what I sang; country boogie. I guess I was. There was no rock 'n' roll in those early days, before 1955. Only country boogie. My brothers also played that way. We just called it country then. In the mid-'50s, I threw a little rock into the act.

We did all our recording in California, except for my first session as a single, which was done in Nashville. And sometimes we recorded in Texas. But California was our base for recording for The Maddox Brothers and Rose. I was always a different kind of singer. Nowadays, all the girl singers sound alike. I sounded like nobody else, and I guess that's why I was so distinctive. When I go to Europe to perform, the crowds all yell for my song "Wild, Wild Young Men." It's better known today than it was in the '50s. It was never even released as a single then. I got the song from a recording by a colored gal singer, who had an R & B hit on it. I figured I'd try it in the country field. The cut was put out on an album, but that's all, and, to tell you the truth, I even forgot the words over the years. Then the crowds all wanted it in Europe, so I had to relearn the words. I think that's a little strange, but that's the way this business works. I've been at it a long time. I'm still performing, too, but these days I stick mainly to the west coast. But everybody knows who Rose Maddox is.

Rose Maddox, 1987