|Hayden Thompson by Memphis Mike
"Love My Baby", "Fairlane Rock", "Blues Blues Blues", etc...the songs of Hayden Thompson. Every rockabilly fan knows them.
Hayden Thompson was born on March 5, 1938 in Booneville, Mississippi to Baxter & Thelma Thompson. After the death of an infant brother, the Thompsons devoted all of their love and affection to young Hayden. He received his first Gibson guitar at age 5. Hayden quickly learned to play and was influenced by the country artists of the day such as Hank Snow and the Delmore Brothers as well as the blues coming out of Memphis by the likes of BB King & Howling Wolf.
After a childhood of talent shows and radio broadcasts, at age 16 Hayden started his first band in High School, the Southern Melody Boys, which featured Cricket Grissom, his sister Marlin Grissom on bass, Clyde Hill on lead guitar, Perry King on steel and Junior Johnson on fiddle. Playing mostly covers of country hits, the group attracted the attention of the Von label, who recorded and released the group's only single, "I Feel the Blues Coming On"/ "Act Like You Love Me" (Von 1001). It sold respectably but Hayden still had boxes of the record for years. In fact, much to what I'm sure will be the horror of collectors everywhere, Hayden used to use the records for skeet shooting practice!!!!
Fast forward to 1956. Hayden was hanging around Sun studios hoping to get to record for the prestigious little label. In late 1956, Sam Phillips cut 2 songs on Hayden, "One Broken Heart" and "Love My Baby". The band that played on these tracks featured Roland Janes, Marvin Pepper and Jimmy Van Eaton. Also making his debut on these tracks was a wild-eyed Louisiana piano player named Jerry Lee Lewis.
None of the songs that Hayden recorded for Sun ever did much. In fact, the release was eclipsed by Bill Justis' "Raunchy". (and what's he done lately???) Package tours followed finding Hayden on the road with the likes of Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley. Man! Just imagine how exciting those early shows must have been!
I could go through Hayden's entire discography but suffice it to say, that there are some great gems out there by Hayden Thompson. In 1958, Hayden moved to Chicago where he continued playing his music and recording whenever he could. A single and LP on Kapp in the mid 60s found Hayden performing live and also on television. In fact, one of Hayden's big fans at the time was none other than Waylon Jennings! Waylon just loved Hayden's song "She Said". You should hear Hayden imitating Waylon imitating Hayden! It's a riot!
Hayden continued to record through the mid 70s but with a wife and son, Hayden had the everyday bills to pay, so he took a job as a limo driver.
The early 1980s found much interest in Hayden's music overseas and he started his first of many tours of the UK and Europe. Much to his surprise, the crowds were large, enthusiastic AND THEY KNEW HIS SONGS! One afternoon at Hayden's house just outside of Chicago, he played me a video of his 1st UK show and we laughed at how a young lady was literally throwing herself on Hayden while he performed!
Since then, Hayden has returned to recording and has recorded numerous killer tracks for labels in Europe but still his success has been that of cult status. The rockabilly and R&R fan base is large but not quite large enough for the million selling hit that Hayden so rightly deserves. Hayden's most recent recordings are 2 songs he recorded in the fall of 2003 with the Hal Peters Trio in Finland, "Diamonds & Cadillacs" (aka "Rockabilly Man") and Johnny Cash's "Guess Things Happen That Way". As the guy who wrote "Diamonds & Cadillacs", I was extremely lucky to get an early listen to these tracks and let me tell you, MAN THEY JUST ROCK!
Hayden as since retired from driving the limo but he still continues to do shows both overseas and occasionally here in the USA. I'm lucky enough to call Hayden and his wife Georgia my friends. Hayden is a true legend in my book! His voice is as clear as it ever was and often times, he still sounds like a 20 year old! Hayden plans to keep on recording and performing as long as he can and as long as his fans still want him!
Courtesy of Memphis Mike, 2004
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