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Sunday, 5 July 2015

Ronnie Self born 5 July 1938

Ronnie Self (July 5, 1938 - August 28, 1981) was a rockabilly singer and songwriter.

Although Ronnie Self found only limited success as a recording artist in the 1950s and '60s, he wrote hit songs for other vocalists and became the epitome of rockabilly: wild, untamed, erratic. His solo career was unsuccessful, despite being signed to contracts with Columbia and then Decca from the late 1950s through the early 1960s. His only charted single was
Bop-A-Lena; recorded in 1957 and released in 1958, it reached #68 on the Billboard charts. His boastful country anthem Ain't I'm a Dog was a regional hit in the South, but failed to score nationally.  

Ronnie Self was born in 1938 in Tin Town, Missouri, and lived a rural life with his family until his parents decided to move to Springfield when he was still a boy. Ronnie Self was a respectful child who learned to appreciate music at an early age. He took up the guitar, and discovered the joys of country music while still living on the farm. He listened to the recordings of such country artists as Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, but when Elvis got popular in the mid 50s, Ronnie Self found a new kind of music with which to identify.   

Like many of the early rockabilly performers, he successfully merged the two musical styles and fashioned his own music. According to legend, he got into a rockin' band while still in high school. Seems that Ronnie got a little upset with one of his teachers at school one day, and went after the teacher with a baseball bat. So much for the three Rs! 

Ronnie Self went into rock'n'roll. He was always a little wild. 
Not bad, though. His music was a bit wild, too. When he tried out for a radio talent contest once, the station rejected him because his act was too strange. Later, he set out for Nashville, where he recorded for a number of major labels, including ABC-Paramount, Columbia, Decca, and Kapp. He also wrote for Cedarville Music, a big Nashville publisher. His manager billed him as 'Mr. Frantic', presumably for his restless energy on stage. 

In the late 50s, he recorded a number of strong rockabilly sides, including 'Big Fool', 'Date Bait', 'Ain't I'm A Dog' and 'Bop-A-Lena'. It seemed that Ronnie Self was eighteen, cocky, and a little crazy, and headed for the top.

But his one hit - and it reached only number 63 in 1958 - was 'Bop-A-Lena', a song by Mel Tillis and Webb Pierce. Ronnie Self did go on to write 'Sweet Nothin's' and 'I'm Sorry' for Brenda Lee in late 1959 and early 1960, but he sank into personal troubles and frustration with Nashville. He even burned his gold records in front of the BMI office there. He was a perfectionist. He could not
tolerate those who were not.. 
By the early '60s, the bottom had fallen out of his reputation, however, as his chronic alcoholism began taking its toll. Pressured by the twin responsibilities of taking care of a family and maintaining a career, he chose the career, but he couldn't keep that going properly either. He left Decca in 1962 without a hit or many prospects and was signed to the Kapp label, where he cut a pair of songs, "Houdini" and "Bless My Broken Heart."  

During the mid-'60s, he continued writing songs and living out a chaotic personal life, which was characterized by increasingly bizarre and self-destructive episodes, some played out in public and many a product of his triple-threat addictions to alcohol, marijuana, and various pills.  

By the early '80s, his condition had deteriorated so  severely so that he couldn't work any longer. On August 28, 1981, he died in Springfield, MO. However, Brenda Lee's cover of his songs I'm Sorry and Sweet Nothin's became major pop classics and his country gospel song Ain't That Beautiful Singing, recorded by Jake Hess, was awarded a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance in 1969.  

Why Ronnie Self never made it as a performer is one of the great mysteries and injustices of pop music history. He had the look and the sound - a mix of country, rockabilly and R&B that sometimes made him sound like a white Little Richard, but mostly like the young Elvis or Carl Perkins - and he wasn't lacking for good songs, which he mostly wrote himself. He should have been there, thought of in the same breath as Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis; instead, he's a footnote in rock & roll history outside of Europe, where he's treated as a legend. (info various, mainly &

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Boppin’ The Blues – Ronnie Self” go here:

01 Intro By Biff Collie
02 Bop A Lena
03 Short Fat Fannie
04 Flame Of Love
05 Roll Over Beethoven
06 Grandma's Rockin'
07 Money Honey
08 Boppin' The Blues
09 About Cured
10 Hair Of The Dog
11 Rocky Road Blues
12 I Want You To Know
13 Sweet Little Sixteen
14 Keep A Knockin'
15 Long Train To Memphis
16 High On Life
17 The Road Keeps Winding
18 When He Flies Away
19 I'm Gonna Try You
20 Boppin' The Blues
21 Bop A Lena
22 The Hurt Is Free
23 How Careless Of Me
24 Long Distance Kiss
25 Ain't I A Dandy
26 Here Comes Authority
27 I Started World War 1
28 I've Been Brought Down
29 My Own Kick Going
30 Wild And Wooly Life
31 Waitin' For The Gin To Hit Me

A big thank you to Jake @ Jukebox City for link.