Hayden Thompson Biography

5 March 1938, Booneville, Mississippi, USA. Rockabilly and country performer Thompson was brought up on a typical southern radio diet of Hank Snow and Bob Wills, although later he also discovered B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf courtesy of Memphis’ KWEM station. Both his parents were musical, his father playing the guitar and his mother the harmonica. He formed his first band, the Southern Melody Boys, while still at high school. Their sole recording resulted from a radio session in 1954 in Hamilton, Alabama. Released on Von, ‘I Feel The Blues Coming On’ and ‘Act Like You Love Me’ were unassuming country blues offerings featuring Hayden’s rich, emotive vocals. The group lasted for a further year, making their debut on The Louisiana Hayride radio show, before Thompson joined the Dixie Jazzlanders, who toured Mississippi in support of the theatrical release of Rock Around The Clock. A brief spell with the Slim Rhodes band followed before Thompson moved to Memphis, keen to monitor developments at Sun Records in the wake of Elvis Presley’s success. He recorded his first sessions there in the summer of 1956, although nothing was released. He returned a few months later, recording a strong version of Junior Parker’s ‘Love My Baby’, backed by session men including, a then unknown, Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Records’ owner Sam Phillips again passed over the song, before finally releasing a new version of ‘Love My Baby’ on Phillips International, Sun’s sister label, in September 1957. Thompson toured in support of it, alongside Sonny Burgess and Billy Lee Riley. In 1958, he relocated to Chicago, Illinois, taking a residency at the Tally Ho Club. After further singles for B.E.A.T. Records (‘Tom Thumb’) and Profile Records (‘Whatcha Gonna Do’) before Thompson earned a slot on the WGN Barn Dance. Following 1962’s ‘Queen Bee’ on Arlen Records Thompson was contracted to play in the house band at Chicago’s new country venue, the Rivoli Ballroom. In an attempt to woo a mainstream country audience Thompson recorded ‘$16.88’ for Kapp Records. It was successful enough to win him the offer of a debut album, released in 1966. In the early 70s Thompson recorded several singles for the Nashville North label but eventually quit the music business to work full-time as a limo driver. It was only in the late 70s that interest in his catalogue, triggered by the inclusion of ‘Love My Baby’ on samplers such as Put Your Cat Clothes On, brought him out of semi-retirement. By the mid-80s he was a regular on rockabilly revival tours, one of which was recorded by Charly Records for release in 1985. The Time Is Now, a return to his country roots, followed for Swedish label Sunjay in 1991. His most recent recording in 2007 is one of his finest; a mature and relaxed collection.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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