Jackson dolled up country scene

Mar 24 2011 - 7:08pm

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Before Wanda Jackson injected glamour into the genre, country musicians dressed in Western wear.

"I started dressing up strictly because I was rebelling against that silly old Western thing -- boots and hats? When I was a little girl, that was kind of cute," she said. "But once I started developing as a young woman, I said, 'I am covering my assets, here.' "

At school, and as street wear, Jackson was wearing tight sweaters and straight skirts to accentuate her waist and hips. She didn't see why she could not take advantage of that same silhouette onstage.

"I was a big movie buff and I loved Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor -- I loved that sexy, glamorous thing," Jackson said. "I would try to copy their hairstyles and makeup."

Thus, in 1956, with her big new sound and a move to Capital Records from Decca, her costumes morphed into her trademark form-fitting fringe-festooned sheaths. Jackson's seamstress was her mother, Nellie, who also made drapes and home designs as a profession.

"She and I got our heads together and we came up with the silk fringe dresses," said Jackson. "They would liven up all my moves. I never did any vulgar dancing, but you can tap your foot in those and every little bit shimmers."

-- Linda East Brady

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