Janie Fricke Biography

Jane Frickie, 19 December 1947, on the family farm near South Whitney, Indiana, USA. Fricke, who adopted the spelling in 1986 to avoid mispronunciation, has sung in public since the age of 10. Her father was a guitarist and her mother a piano teacher and organist. Fricke sang jingles to pay her university fees and then moved to Los Angeles to find work as a session singer. As this was not productive, she moved to Nashville and joined the Lea Jane Singers, often recording three sessions a day, five days a week. Fricke has added background vocals to thousands of records, mostly country, including ones by Crystal Gayle (‘I’ll Get Over You’), Ronnie Milsap (‘(I’m A) Stand By My Woman Man’), Elvis Presley (‘My Way’), Tanya Tucker (‘Here’s Some Love’) and Conway Twitty (‘I’d Love To Lay You Down’). Fricke’s uncredited contribution on Johnny Duncan’s ‘Jo And The Cowboy’ led to several other records with Duncan. The disc jockeys and public alike were curious about the mystery voice on his country hits ‘Stranger’, ‘Thinkin’ Of A Rendezvous’ and ‘It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better’, and she was finally given equal billing on ‘Come A Little Bit Closer’. This led to considerable interest in her first solo recordings and she had US country hits with ‘What’re You Doing Tonight?’ and a revival of ‘Please Help Me, I’m Falling’. At first, she was reluctant to tour because she found herself in continuing demand as a session singer. She joined Vern Gosdin for ‘Till The End’ and ‘Mother Country Music’ and Charlie Rich for a US country number 1, ‘On My Knees’.

In 1982, Fricke had her first solo US country number 1 with ‘Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me, Baby’, co-written by 60s hitmaker Bruce Channel and featuring Ricky Skaggs’ harmony vocals. Johnny Rodriguez’s road manager, Randy Jackson, proposed to Fricke on a radio phone-in show and later married her and became her manager. Fricke, who toured with Alabama, had a US country number 1 with a similarly styled, high-energy performance, ‘He’s A Heartache (Looking For A Place To Happen)’ (1983). It was taken from It Ain’t Easy, which she made with her own Heart City Band and which was produced by Bob Montgomery. ‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy’ (1982) and ‘Tell Me A Lie’ (1983) were other US country number 1s from the same album. She joined Merle Haggard for another number 1, ‘A Place To Fall Apart’ (1985), which was based on a letter he had written about his ex-wife, Leona Williams, and Fricke’s other duet partners include George Jones (‘All I Want To Do In Life’), Ray Charles (‘Who Cares?’), Tommy Cash (‘The Cowboy And The Lady’) and Larry Gatlin (‘From Time To Time’). Her Black And White album was more blues-based, while Labor Of Love was produced by Chris Waters and included an ingenious song he had written with his sister, Holly Dunn, ‘Love Is One Of Those Words’, as well as Steve Earle’s ‘My Old Friend The Blues’. She recorded albums for Intersound and Branson Entertainment in the 90s, reverting to the original spelling of her surname.

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