Rockabilly icon Wanda Jackson, performing at The Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville on May 27, knows her superstars.
After all, she once dated Elvis Presley, she recalled in an interview with The Daily Times Weekend section last year:
“I was right there working with him when all of this great stuff started to happen, so I was excited to be around him,” she said. “It impressed me. You have to remember, I was a teenager, and this was the music the teenagers loved. I loved it too, and I felt like it was a great opportunity for me to work with him, because he was causing such a stir.
“Sometimes Elvis and I would get to go out by ourselves and just have a bite to eat and drive around and talk, or maybe take in a matinee movie. That’s what I had to call dating him, even though when we lived in different states, so when I was at home, that was hard. But I still have his ring that he gave me, so we were officially dating.”
So when she says there’s only one contemporary rock star who could stand up to the King, you best take her word for it. And really, is it any wonder that one is Jack White — he of The White Stripes/The Dead Weather/The Raconteurs and producer of her most recent album, “The Party Ain’t Over”?
“The only one who stands up to Jack would be Elvis, and Elvis wasn’t that big a star when I was working with him. He was becoming that, but when I started, in 1955 up until his early movie career starting in ‘57, he was only doing select tours,” Jackson told us during a recent phone interview. “Jack has brought that same kind of excitement back for me. I even tell my audiences that I see a lot of resemblance in Jack and Elvis, just in their mannerisms, their ways of thinking, their love of life and enthusiasm for things, their focus.
“Elvis was very focused; he knew exactly what he was doing and understood what he was creating. He loved it at the time, but it kind of got out of hand for him. And Jack knows, too — but he has a handle on balance, and a wonderful little family, including a wife and two adorable children who he loves dearly. I’m glad he seems so well balanced where Elvis was so much younger and didn’t get that opportunity.”