Friday, April 28, 2017

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Jimmie Rodgers

Artist:Jimmie Rodgers
Song:Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
Album:The Best Of Jimmie Rodgers

Let's get rid of the confusion right now. There was a country music music pioneer named Jimmie Rodgers known as The Singing Brakeman. This Jimmie Rodgers was a folksinger who had a couple of big pop hits in the late 50s. He was born Sept. 18, 1933 in Camus, WA. His mother taught him to play guitar and piano. He was in a band called the Melodies and he served in the US Air Force in Korea. Like many singers of the 50s, Rodgers got his big break appearing on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. As I have said before, today's fans have no idea how important Godfrey was in those days. He was spotted by the production team of Hugo & Luigi (Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore) who had just bought into Morris Levy's Roulette label. Rodgers was mainly a folksinger. But as they went on to do with Sam Cooke, Hugo & Luigi added strings and a chorus to turn a folksinger into a pop singer. Rodgers scored three big hits. Honeycomb topped the charts in 1957. The second single Kisses Sweeter Than Wine reached #3. And the third single Uh Oh I'm Falling In Love reached #7. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine was recorded by The Weavers in 1950. It's based on a song Leadbelly recorded in the 30s. Pete Seeger liked the song but he and Lee Hays of The Weavers wrote new lyrics. So for a short time, Rodgers was a big star. But then Hugo & Luigi left Roulette for RCA. And that was the end for Rodgers. He left Roulette in 1961 for Dot and later A&M. But he was never able to recapture the glory years with Hugo & Luigi. He suffered a head injury in 1967 that may have been the result of a Los Angeles Police Department beating. He recovered but he was never able to resume touring. Tommy James claimed that Roulette Records owner Morris Levy arranged the beating. Levy had mob connections. Rodgers performed occasionally but he could have made good money as a nostalgia touring act. You can get all of Rodgers' hits on this Rhino budget comp. Here's Jimmie Rodgers performing Kisses Sweeter Than Wine on The Giselle McKenzie Show 1958.


  1. I remember hearing this song on the radio back in the 60's and early 70's. I loved it. Thanks so much for the back story about the song, originally done by Leadbelly, another great done first by a Blues legend and the beating he took. That part saddens me. But back then I heard stories about the mob and what they could do. At their height they were greatly feared, and rightly so. Thanks again Frank.

  2. Though technically true, Kisses Sweeter Than Wine is more based on Pete Seeger's version. Leadbelly wouldn't have recognized it. The writing credit is with two pseudonyms at The Weavers publishing company. Seeger said in his autobiography many contributed to the song and he didn't know who should get credit. Regarding Morris Levy, at the time, no one including anyone who recorded for Roulette knew he was a mobster. It was too late by the time everyone found out. It doesn't change that some great records were made there.

    1. Thank-you so much for the clarification regarding the song Frank. Pete Seeger was a very gifted artist to be sure. I see he is very humble in his version of the creation on the song. As for Morris Levy. I am just glad for the great music produced at Roulette. Yours Defshepard.