Jimmie Martin Combo / Vocal by Ramsey Kearney - "Rock the Bop" (Jaxon 501), 1957
Jackson, Tennessee, has been the home for several Tennessee Rockabilly musicians, most notable Carl Perkins. Local record companies, e.g. Jaxon and Lu recorded local artists just as Kenny Parchman, Curtis Hobock, Carl Mann and others. Today, we spotlight a young Ramsey Kearney, who also was part of the Jackson music scene and recorded for Jaxon.
Ramsey Kearney was born on October 30, 1933, in Bolivar, Tennessee, where he attended high school with his friend Bobby Sisco, who eventually moved to Michigan and became a Rockabilly singer in his own right. Kearney became interested in music at the age of 13 and took part in a talent contest, which resulted in a radio spot on WDXI (Jackson, TN) in 1948. It was there that he met Carl Perkins, who was a guest on Kearney's show several times. In 1952, Kearney gave up his show and joined the Snearly Ranch Boys in Memphis, Tennessee, a local country band led by drummer Clyde Leoppard. This group also included such persons as Smokey Joe Baugh, Stan Kesler, and Bill Taylor. One year later, Kearney served in the US Army and upon his discharge, he recorded some songs for Sun Records, which remained unissued.
|Ramsey Kearney (bass) with Ed Cisco and Carl Perkins at the Knick Knack Café in Jackson, Tennessee, 1949|
As the vocalist of the Jimmie Martin Combo, he recorded two songs for Jaxon Records, "Rock the Bop" b/w "Red Bobby Sox" in 1957. Jaxon was founded by Martin himself and his group was the first to appear on the label. It was a small company that gave local talents the possibility to record their first single, for example Carl Mann. It was Kearney's first record release; however, the record went nowhere due to missing promotion and distribution.
Kearney later moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he became a member of WNOX's Tennessee Barn Dance. It was not until he moved to Nashville that he enjoyed some success both as a musician and as a songwriter. During 1961-1963, he recorded for Hickory and penned such titles as "Emotion," recorded by Brenda Lee, Juice Newton, and Mel Tillis. Kearney is still active as a musician and records for the Safari label at the moment.
Visit Ramsey Kearney's website